Hambledon's archaeology and wildlife to benefit from grant

Aerial view of stunning Hambledon Hill

Hambledon Hillfort is one of 13 majestic iron age hillforts across the Dorset and Wiltshire landscape to be given a new lease of life as part of a generous award of £800k made to the National Trust by Postcode Earth Trust, raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The £119k Wessex Hillforts and Habitats project will help protect all 13 Scheduled Monuments, dating from over 2,000 years ago, which are of national importance not just for their archaeology, but for their diverse fragile habitats which are homes to threatened butterfly species including the brilliantly coloured Adonis blue, the small Duke of Burgundy and the orange, yellow and brown chequered marsh fritillary.

Hambledon Hill and Hod Hill in Dorset date from 5,500 to 2,000 years ago. At Hambledon an iron-age hillfort was built on the main hill.  The defences can still be seen today and together with its three ramparts encircling the hill is one of the most impressive archaeological earthworks in southern England.

Conservation work

The work to be carried out ranges from erosion repairs to paths and ramparts to improving fencing so that cattle can graze in the summer and sheep during the winter.  Volunteers will help with ragwort removal in the summer months, and there will be green hay spreading at some sites to enhance the diversity of wildflower populations.

National Trust ranger Clive Whitbourn said: “The hillforts emerge mysteriously from the landscape offering stunning panoramic views across the Dorset countryside.

“Due to scrub encroachment and erosion, urgent action is needed to protect them for the future for everyone. 

“The work we will be doing together with a small army of volunteers will include scrub removal, fencing and improving access to visitors.  This will result in better care of chalk grassland habitat and help attract more wildlife as well as butterflies – helping us meet our ambitions for nature.  

“Archaeological features including long barrows and round barrows will be better protected when the threat of root and scrub damage has been removed.”

Other hillforts will benefit too

The other Dorset hillforts to benefit from the grant include Lambert’s Castle, Coney’s Castle, Pilsdon Pen, Lewesden Hill, Eggardon Hill and Badbury rings. In Wiltshire Cley Hill, Figsbury Ring, Whitesheet Hill and Parkhill camp will also benefit.  Some 332 hectares of priority habitat will be in better condition as a result of this generous award.

If you are interested in getting involved please contact Marie McLeish, project manager, marie.mcleish@nationaltrust.org.uk.

The remaining £700k awarded by Postcode Earth Trust and raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will support the National Trust’s wider ambition to restore a healthy, beautiful more natural environment.  Conservation projects include wildflower meadow and apple orchard restoration at the Brockhampton Estate in Herefordshire and the Trust’s national Riverlands programme, including on the River Bure in Norfolk.