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History of Crickley Hill

Long-reaching views over Crickley Hill and the surrounding countryside on a sunny day
Long-reaching views over Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images / Emma Weston

The archaeological remains at Crickley Hill all point to a long and violent history, and recent archaeological excavations have revealed a brutal past. Although little remains today, there's evidence that people lived on the hill from the early Neolithic Period right up until the fifth century AD.

A violent past

Crickley Hill is well known amongst historians and archaeologists for its recurring violence. The first structures on the hill date back to 3500-2500 BC and included an enclosure with a causeway. It was rebuilt several times, but after being aggressively attacked, it was finally abandoned in the Neolithic Period.

A snowy field at Crickley Hill with snow-covered trees in the background
A snowy winter's day at Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images

Iron Age

The abandoned enclosure and causeway were replaced by an Iron Age hillfort. This would have been a triangular patch on top of the hill covering almost nine acres and would have been home to 100 people. A rubble-cored and timber-laced rampart surrounded the settlement, and a rock-cut, flat-bottomed ditch paralleled the rampart.

The final battle

Despite their best efforts to protect the fort, in the sixth century BC, it was burned and abandoned. Over 400 arrowheads were discovered at its entrance, evidence of the battle that took place there.

Close-up of two archaeologists doing detailed excavation work at Trevose Head, Cornwall
Archaeologists at work excavating a site | © National Trust Images / Mark Saunders

Archaeology of Crickley Hill

As the soil is thin on the hill, evidence of Crickley's history lies close to the surface, hidden just beneath the grassland. The site has been excavated many times and is now considered to be of international importance.

The excavations were some of the largest and longest in the UK. Running from 1969 to 1993, large areas were excavated each summer. The excavation, and subsequent research, are managed by the Crickley Hill Archaeological Trust.

Although the archive isn’t yet complete, you can browse scans of the excavation records online here.

A long-reaching view over green fields and countryside from the top of Crickley Hill

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