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Boosting Hod Hill's archaeology and wildlife

View of Hod Hill, Dorset, and the surrounding countryside
View of Hod Hill and the surrounding countryside | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Hod Hill was one of 13 majestic Iron Age hillforts across the Dorset and Wiltshire landscape to be given a new lease of life by a generous £800k award made to the National Trust by Postcode Earth Trust, raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This grant funded the Wessex Hillforts and Habitats Project, which has benefited the site, as well as other hillforts around Dorset and Wiltshire.

The Wessex Hillforts and Habitats Project

The £119k Wessex Hillforts and Habitats Project has helped protect 13 Scheduled Monuments dating back from over 2,000 years ago and of national importance not just for their archaeology but for their diverse fragile habitats, which are homes to threatened butterfly species including the Adonis Blue, Duke of Burgundy and Marsh Fritillary.

Hod Hill and Hambledon Hill in Dorset date from 2,000 to 5,500 years ago. The defences can still be seen today and together with their three ramparts encircling the hill form one of the most impressive archaeological earthworks in southern England.

The downland turf at Hod Hill supports a huge number of plant species, up to 50 per square metre on some sites, along with a similarly varied mix of insects, most visible of these being the butterflies feeding on the nectar-rich flowers growing here during the warmer months.

Cattle grazing on Hod Hill, Dorset
Cattle grazing on Hod Hill | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Conservation work through the year

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

National Trust ranger Clive Whitbourn said at the outset of the project: ‘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.  

Roman camp earthworks at Hod Hill, Dorset
Roman camp earthworks at Hod Hill | © National Trust Images/Clive Whitbourn

‘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 benefiting

The other Dorset hillforts benefiting from the grant include Lambert’s Castle, Coney’s Castle, Pilsdon Pen, Lewesdon Hill, Eggardon Hill and Badbury Rings.

In Wiltshire, Cley Hill, Figsbury Ring, Whitesheet Hill and Parkhill camp are also benefiting. Some 332 hectares of priority habitat will be in far better condition as a result of the generous award.

Get in touch

If you are interested in getting involved in the ongoing work, please contact project manager Marie McLeish on

Hambledon Hill, Dorset


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