Kinver Hillfort is a man made feature built by ancestors on the natural promontory of Kinver Edge. One of many hillforts in the West Midlands, it holds a few tantalising clues about its past.
What is a hillfort?
Some hillforts were used for defence only, some as distribution and gathering places, some as defended settlements and others as powerful focal points for large areas. Whilst most hillforts were used in the Iron Age period, we suspect that Kinver Hillfort has origins earlier in the Late Bronze Age.
Detecting the past
No archaeological investigations have ever been carried out at Kinver Hillfort, but we can detect certain clues to its past by looking at what remains here and in the wider landscape.
It was an important place and a strong fortress, part of a landscape of farmland and smaller settlements. Two sides are formed by huge banks called ramparts which you can still see today, but would have been much higher than they are now. The ramparts would have probably had a wall or palisaded fence on the top. The other two sides make use of the natural promontory to provide defence – using the fantastic views which you can still enjoy to watch out for potential enemies.
Inside the hillfort was probably a group of roundhouses, and when the conditions are right (usually in winter) you can make out traces of circular depressions left behind by these buildings. There is evidence for a blocked up entrance to the east side of the fort that shows it was probably repaired during its lifetime. We are very near the boundary between two important Iron Age tribes, and this border is now mirrored by the county boundary of Worcestershire and Staffordshire.
In more recent years the strategic location of Kinver Hillfort was exploited for WWII defences, and you can still see a home guard shelter abutting the ramparts of the south west corner .
But when exactly was Kinver Hillfort first built? Who lived here and for how long? Was it used for defence or just trade? We can speculate, but these are all questions that we still don’t know the answers to – only archaeological investigation of the site might reveal some answers.
Looking after Kinver Hillfort
We carry out works to improve access to the hillfort and manage the vegetation. Longhorn cattle graze the encroaching scrub and volunteers clear larger trees that have established on the ramparts. We leave small billberry bushes as wildlife habitat, and now tree pipits make their nests on the ground. The best time to see the archaeological features is in winter when there is less bracken obscuring the features, but the views are fantastic all year round.