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Heritage on the Hills

medieval deer hunt

Beeston Crag is a popular hotspot on the Ridge; for walking and for its archaeological importance — see our publications section to access these and other leaflets CLICK HERE.

If you had been up on the Crag in 1864, however, you might have been a little surprised at what you would have seen.

In his accounts for that year, the Agent for the Peckforton Estate entered (under the heading of sundry payments) , 'Meal to Deer and Kangaroos on Beeston Castle £4.16s.1d (£4.80)'. Those kangaroos were probably wallabies, a fashionable feature of many country estates in times past.

Deer must have been known on the Sandstone Ridge from at least the 13th Century, with the earliest documentary reference to Harthill, 'the hill where harts (stags) are found'. If one stands on Raw Head, looking toward the hill above Harthill village, you will see that it is topped by a large grassy enclosure, entirely surrounded my trees. That is, in fact, all that is left of the original medieval deer part, from where the stags would have been released to be hunted across the hills by the local lords.

In 1726 Robert Bulkeley of Bulkeley recorded in his diary '15th September: In morn I went on the hill to see Lord Malpas buck hunting'. Lord Malpas was the son of Lord Cholmondeley and we know from a document dated 1713, that deer were also a feature of Chomondeley Park.

Robert Bulkeley also recorded in 1726 evidence of another species hunted 'for the pot', when he wrote: '16th September 1726, Coorsing, killd two hares', which were then probably 'jugged' by the cook at Bulkeley Hall. Another highly edible member of the 'Leporidae' family is the rabbit. Thomas Williams was the warrener for Lord Cholmondeley and in 1716, he received £2.00 '... being one year's wages for looking after the warren on Bulkeley Hill and catching rabbits for the Earl's use ...'.

Our thanks to David Hayns for supplying this story for the Website. We have featured other items received from David CLICK HERE. Thanks also to Ann Davidson of My Village News, a regular publisher of David's articles.