Introduction to Dover's Hill
Lying within the boundary of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dover's Hill stands at 230m above sea level, located on the North Cotswold escarpment near the town of Chipping Campden. The lower slopes of the hill indicate past Roman activity and are now wooded with native trees such as Sweet Chestnut and Larch.
The large open fields and woodland of Dover’s Hill are popular walking areas for the surrounding towns of Chipping Campden, Broadway, Weston Sub Edge and Evesham.
The expansive views from the hill enhance the sense of space and feeling of extensive rolling countryside. Dover's Hill is also the first or last place encountered by those walking the Cotswold Way.
The grassy slopes of the hill are currently managed by grazing sheep.
The history of the hill
In the nearby woodland at Dover's Hill, the terraced sides are alleged to be all that remains of a Roman vineyard. Furthermore, an archaeological pattern of ridges and troughs created by ploughing systems in the Middle Ages (known as ridge and furrow), can be spotted in the large grass field known as Kingcombe Plain.
The Cotswold Olimpick Games are an annual celebration held at the hill on the friday after Spring Bank Holiday, and may have begun as early as 1622.
The Olimpicks traditionally include events such as shin-kicking, morris dancing and tug-of-war, although in the past there would also have been sword-fighting and horse-racing events. A temporary wooden castle used to be constructed, called Dover Castle, from which ceremonious gunfire was sounded throughout the Games.
Robert Dover, a local lawyer, started the Games with the approval of King James. It's not known exactly why Robert founded this event - perhaps to encourage the local people to stay strong and fit, or maybe just to unite rich and poor. Robert would preside over the Games, riding his horse and wearing a ruff, coat and hat donated by King James.
Dover's Hill car park provides good access for all visitors; a level path leads from the car park through a wheelchair-friendly gate and onto the site up to the viewpoint. The property is level from the car park however it does drop away steeply,so care should be taken near the steep edges.