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Habitats & Hillforts

Archaeological excavation
Maiden Castle reconstruction
17 dsw

The Habitats and Hillforts Landscape Partnership Scheme ran between 2008-12, and focused on the chain of historically important hill top Iron Age forts that lines the Sandstone Ridge, including Helsby Hill, Woodhouse Hill, Eddisbury, Kelsborrow, Beeston Castle and Maiden Castle.

It was led by Cheshire West and Chester Council, with the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and a partnership of local organisations and residents who worked together to deliver a wide range of outputs including:

  • Restoration of 6 ha of acid grassland, 4 ha of lowland heathland, 12 ha of deciduous woodland and 52 ha of mere.
  • Restoration of 8 km of hedgerow and the repair and restoration of 6 km of dry stone wall.
  • Excavations at four of the six hillforts.
  • A LIDAR (Light Detection and Radar system) survey, smaller geophysical surveys, and field walks.
  • Conservation improvements at the hillforts, including vegetation control, dry stone wall and fencing repairs, and rabbit damage restoration.
  • 13 km of improved access for walkers, horse riders and less abled people.
  • Seven interpretative panels, 14 leaflets and self-guided trails, and a community history project.
  • A range of community events, including an "artist in residence" and story-telling.
  • 374 training / activity days, which provided over 5,000 "people days" of engagement.
  • Working with 114 primary and secondary schools.
  • Construction of a replica Iron Age roundhouse.

The Scheme was a great success, won people's hearts and minds, and developed a greater sense of pride and understanding of the Ridge and its special qualities. The Sandstone Ridge Trust was established in 2011 to continue the momentum created by Habitats and Hillforts, and to develop new activities and initiatives.