A walk on Pontesford Hill is a walk through time.
As you explore Pontesford and Earl’s hill, you are likely to come across a number of ancient archaeological features that make this area unique.
Just a short walk from the car park and you already travel back to the Iron Age. Hidden in the woodland opposite the path to the summit is the Lower Camp consisting of an inner rampart, a raised barrier (berm), an outer rampart, an outer ditch and a counterscarp bank. It is thought that this was used as…
Travelling onward, and up the steep path towards the summit, you will come across another large embankment on the right-hand side. By taking the footpath off to the right, you’ll be able to explore the Bronze Age cross Dyke. This 190m long ridge marks the summit of Pontesford Hill and runs down along the Craft Valley. Thought to have been a rampart to protect against invaders coming up the western slope, the ridge has a curved entrance.
Recent work carried out by the Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Landscape Partnership Scheme produced an aerial survey of the area using Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) – a method of bouncing pulses of laser light off the ground using an aircraft. The image below was taken from the their website and shows the archaelogical features found on Pontesford and Earl’s Hill. You can explore more by visiting the Layered Landscapes website.
The circle at the top contains the lower camp (found close to the car park). The elongated circle contains the Bronze Age cross dyke running down the Croft Valley. Finally, the larger circle contains the Iron Age hill fort at the summit of Earl’s Hill. (copyright Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Landscape Partnership Scheme)
The summit of Earl’s Hill has perhaps the most obvious remnants of the iron age hill fort. While the best view of these ridges and ditches is from the air, you can also clearly see them from the ground. Looking around from the summit, you can see why the ancient Earls would want to build here. The panoramic views allow you to clearly see the surrounding Shropshire hills and all the towns and villages contained within.
In terms of archaeological information about the hillforts on Pontesford Hill, the main sources are Philip Barker’s report on his rescue excavation when they put the forestry road in in the 1960s. The reference for this is: -
Barker, P.A. 1972. An Emergency Excavation at Pontesford Hill Camp 1963. In F. Lynch and C. Burgess (eds.) Prehistoric Man in Wales and the West. Bath. Adams and Dart. pp. 345-353.
There’s also a paper by James Forde-Johnston in which he identifies the potential pairing of Lower Camp with Earl’s Hill hillfort and sets out his theory that the former acted as an ‘outpost’ for the latter for defensive purposes. However, I think most archaeologists would now question this.
Forde-Johnston, J. (1962) Earl's Hill, Pontesbury and related hillforts in England and Wales. Archaeological Journal 119: 66-91.
Click on the links below to see the reports.
Forde-Johnston Report 1962
Barker Report 1972
There is additional information about the Hill Forts on the reserve available from the Heritage Gateway site for
Pontesford Hill:- www.heritagegateway.
Earls Hill:- www.heritagegateway.