Open evening will reveal latest plans for Shropshire hillfort management and volunteering

A new programme of landscape maintenance and volunteering at Old Oswestry hillfort will be the focus of an open meeting next month.

Volunteers from the Oswestry Heritage Gateway working on the hillfort ponds
Volunteers from the Oswestry Heritage Gateway working on the hillfort ponds

Members of the public are invited to view and comment on future landscape management plans for the 3,000-year-old Iron Age hillfort at Hermon Chapel in Oswestry on February 17.

English Heritage, guardian of the 3,000-year-old hillfort, is organising the meeting together with local conservation group, the Oswestry Heritage Gateway.

The event, which runs from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, will include a presentation on plans to expand sheep grazing on parts of the hillfort to help reduce the spread of bracken. There will also be a call for volunteers to sign up to a new initiative working directly with English Heritage on landscape maintenance and other conservation activities. 

The following day (Tuesday 18 February), volunteers can join a working party on the hillfort to assist contractors with further work on the ponds at the western entrance. Tasks will include clearance of overgrown vegetation and removal of sediment build-up from the ponds following assessment of samples taken last year.

Staff from English Heritage will accompany and supervise volunteers during the day. Landscape maintenance on the hillfort is carefully planned and supervised to ensure the archaeological fabric is safeguarded while being sensitive to the thriving ecology. A BioBlitz survey of Old Oswestry’s wildlife in 2018 recorded over 500 species of flora and fauna, including several rare or endangered ones.

Neil Phillips from the Oswestry Heritage Gateway said: “Volunteers have already made a valuable contribution to the ongoing landscape management programme. Their efforts in particular have helped to restore water levels in the ponds, improving the habitat for the wildlife.

“Building on this, we are delighted that future activities will be brought under the wing of English Heritage’s national volunteering programme with all the additional opportunities for training, wider engagement and recognition this will offer.”

Old Oswestry is one of Britain’s best preserved and most important Iron Age hillforts and is protected in law both as a heritage and environmental site. The 44-acre earthwork is designated as a scheduled monument as well as a local wildlife site (LWS) while also lying within the Oswestry Uplands, one of 159 national character areas (NCAs) in England. NCAs have been designated by Natural England for their special landscape, historic and environmental value, and distinctiveness.

Anyone interested in volunteering on February 18 should contact Mr Phillips on 07751 160576.

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