View from Haresfield Beacon looking towards the Severn and Forest of Dean
Haresfield Beacon a few miles west of Stroud, is located on top of the Cotswold scarp with commanding views looking across the Severn vale towards the Forest of Dean and on a clear day the Brecon Beacons and Malvern Hills. It is no coincidence that our ancestors established a hill fort on the site and is actually called Ring Hill probably named after the shape of the fort itself. Whilst most of the fort is covered by trees or has been quarried, alot of the structure is still visible and the sheer scale of it is well worth appreciating.
The photograph above shows some of the ramparts close to the Cotswold Way as described above, covered in trees and scrub. I undertook a project in the winter of 2013/14 to cut and remove the trees so that the ramparts could be seen again after years of being hidden from view.
As you can see the effects can be dramatic. Further to this photo work has continued to try to restore the ramparts to a grass sward. The piles of woodchip were removed by the local farmer, the tree stumps were ground down to the turf level and all arising’s again, removed. Cattle grazing has been reintroduced with flower and herb rich hay spread to encourage the seeding in of wildflowers.
It is important to keep clearing the site of unwanted invasive species so any bramble and nettle regrowth gets cut and removed to again promote the grass. The cattle don’t eat this coarse vegetation and in time if we left it young hawthorn and ash saplings would soon start appearing and before you know it we would be back to the woody habitat that we spent a great deal of time and energy trying to tackle.
It’s surprising what you find when doing this work and a few objects were uncovered including the items below.
The two pebbles were found after cutting back the nettles partially buried in the stone of the ramparts. The ramparts are made of oolitic limestone whereas these pebbles are not local and either river gravel or shoreline pebbles. How they arrived in this location is a mystery but could be evidence of trading or mixed with flint gravels transported to site for working into primitive tools.
Again I found this piece of pottery whilst raking up the cut vegetation. It was on top of a mole hill, unearthed by accident but providing some great archaeology.