Volunteers team up with English Heritage on new hillfort sign

Visitors to a popular Shropshire hillfort are assured of a bright welcome following an initiative involving local residents.

Pictured by the new sign are Annie Bethell (far left) and Helen Allen (second from right) of English Heritage, with local volunteers Neil Phillips and Maggie Rowlands
Pictured by the new sign are Annie Bethell (far left) and Helen Allen (second from right) of English Heritage, with local volunteers Neil Phillips and Maggie Rowlands

Volunteers from newly formed group, the Oswestry Heritage Gateway, have helped English Heritage – the guardians of Old Oswestry – to make-over the entrance sign for the 3,000-year-old hillfort.

Representatives from English Heritage met with volunteers in May to discuss forthcoming work at the site. The meeting also provided an opportunity to view a new graphic panel which has recently been installed, which shows updated information on the hillfort’s history and ecological interest. A new ‘no bikes’ symbol has been added to discourage cyclists, who have been causing damage to the scheduled earthwork.

Forthcoming volunteer opportunities were then discussed during a walkover of the hillfort.

Volunteer, Neil Phillips, said: “We are putting together a programme of tasks to the end of the year which will keep our growing team of volunteers very busy. Activities include litter picking, fencing inspection, signage audits, visitor counts, and other landscape maintenance. We will also be continuing with vegetation control around the ponds following a major session of clearance involving volunteers earlier this year.”

Working with volunteers at Old Oswestry has helped English Heritage to develop a new model for caring for historic sites, with some tasks being remotely organised and supervised by Oswestry Heritage Gateway coordinators. Work is undertaken in close liaison with English Heritage’s regional team in compliance with environmental and health and safety requirements.

English Heritage’s Helen Allen said: “It has been a truly inspiring experience working with the Oswestry Heritage Gateway team. It is amazing how a group of local people has evolved into a passionate community initiative which really is helping our organisation to protect this important historic site. The volunteers are already having a positive impact on the site, and I look forward to seeing how, by working together, we can continue to transform Old Oswestry hillfort for the better.”

Mr Phillips said that new volunteers are always welcome, even if they have just an occasional few hours to spare. Anyone interested should contact him on 07751 160576 or via Facebook (search OldOswestryHillfort)

The Oswestry Heritage Gateway has been established to facilitate the conservation and promotion of Old Oswestry hillfort, “The Stonehenge of the Iron Age”, and the historic northern landscape of the English/Welsh border market town of Oswestry.