Author Topic: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated  (Read 192 times)

davidb

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 131
  • Country: ca
  • Interests: late republic, late roman empire, 9-13th century
Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« on: January 31, 2019, 06:46:40 PM »
A string of iron age hillforts that dot the landscape of the English West Country are to be rejuvenated as part of a lottery award worth almost £1m.

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/jan/31/iron-age-hillforts-west-country-england-rejuvenated-dorset-wiltshire
  • david blanchard

Mark G

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 1725
  • Country: gb
    • Lead-Astray
  • Interests: History, Wagaming
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2019, 09:16:15 PM »
I hadn't realised that the "imaginative alternative" to the Irish backstop proposal was gong to be this far inland. 

still, its nice to know that they haven't just been wasting the last 6 months dithering...
  • Mark Grindlay

Jim Webster

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 3562
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2019, 07:48:13 AM »
If they got the sheep grazing right, they wouldn't need volunteers pulling the ragwort, sheep would get rid of it anyway in a few years
  • Jim Webster

Mark G

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 1725
  • Country: gb
    • Lead-Astray
  • Interests: History, Wagaming
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 05:48:01 PM »
Careful, it’s near Wales.  Best not mention sheep
  • Mark Grindlay

Patrick Waterson

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6558
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Pretty much everything to do with warfare, especially how military systems actually work.
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 06:08:31 PM »
If they got the sheep grazing right, they wouldn't need volunteers pulling the ragwort, sheep would get rid of it anyway in a few years

I wonder if this is how the hillforts were maintained scrub-free in their heyday.  When we consider early Britain, we tend to think of corn cultivation and storage without giving a great deal of regard to animals.

Might hillforts have been predominantly pasture areas rather than crop-growing locations?  If so, they would at least have the livestock in or close to the right place if trouble threatened.  Add a few grain silos and you are ready for a siege.
  • Patrick Waterson
"History is not merely what happened; it is what happened in the context of what might have happened. Therefore it must incorporate, as a necessary element, the alternatives, the might-have-beens." - Hugh Trevor-Roper

Jim Webster

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 3562
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 09:22:53 PM »
If they got the sheep grazing right, they wouldn't need volunteers pulling the ragwort, sheep would get rid of it anyway in a few years

I wonder if this is how the hillforts were maintained scrub-free in their heyday.  When we consider early Britain, we tend to think of corn cultivation and storage without giving a great deal of regard to animals.

Might hillforts have been predominantly pasture areas rather than crop-growing locations?  If so, they would at least have the livestock in or close to the right place if trouble threatened.  Add a few grain silos and you are ready for a siege.

I suspect it would be the way they'd do it. A handful of boys too young to do anything else useful could keep an eye on them and when you look at the sheer acreage of the banks, there's plenty of grazing
  • Jim Webster

NickHarbud

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 501
  • Country: sa
  • Membership Secretary, Former Editor
  • Interests: Omnivorous
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2019, 03:52:07 AM »
..and they do so keep the grass neat and tidy.

  • Nick Harbud

Erpingham

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 4777
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Medieval warfare, Old School, home made rules
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2019, 08:59:24 AM »
Some dyed-in-the-wool grazers there  :)

I've read somewhere the idea that what we think of as the classic grassy-banked hillfort is just the result of years of sheep grazing and when they were new some had chalk faced banks kept clear of foliage.  This would only work with chalk geology, of course.

If you think about it, there isn't any great advantage militarily to closely cropped grassy banks - a covering of gorse or brambles might be better.  At least it would make attackers take their clothes off, Gaesatae-style  ;)

But then again, that's a fair area of home pasture for your sheep you'd be passing up and, if looking impressive was a major part of the game, closely-grazed banks would look the part.
  • Anthony Clipsom

Jim Webster

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 3562
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2019, 05:23:29 PM »
Some dyed-in-the-wool grazers there  :)

I've read somewhere the idea that what we think of as the classic grassy-banked hillfort is just the result of years of sheep grazing and when they were new some had chalk faced banks kept clear of foliage.  This would only work with chalk geology, of course.

If you think about it, there isn't any great advantage militarily to closely cropped grassy banks - a covering of gorse or brambles might be better.  At least it would make attackers take their clothes off, Gaesatae-style  ;)

But then again, that's a fair area of home pasture for your sheep you'd be passing up and, if looking impressive was a major part of the game, closely-grazed banks would look the part.

Brambles are good for slowing human wave type assaults, but pretty bad for stopping small competent parties sneaking up at night in their cover
  • Jim Webster

Patrick Waterson

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6558
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Pretty much everything to do with warfare, especially how military systems actually work.
Re: Iron age hillforts of West Country to be rejuvenated
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2019, 06:13:15 PM »
If your sheep are grazing on the hillfort, it is that much harder for neighbouring tribes to nip in and steal them.  It also economises on the number of lookouts (and dogs) you need on duty.

Some dyed-in-the-wool grazers there  :)

Quite a few lawn mowers are similarly coloured. ;D
  • Patrick Waterson
"History is not merely what happened; it is what happened in the context of what might have happened. Therefore it must incorporate, as a necessary element, the alternatives, the might-have-beens." - Hugh Trevor-Roper