Trees to be felled at popular beauty spot to protect ancient hillfort

More trees could be felled on Nesscliffe Hill this autumn.

The Hillfort on Nesscliffe Hill
The Hillfort on Nesscliffe Hill

Shropshire Council is seeking permission from Historic England to begin the second phase of tree felling at its site at Nesscliffe Hillfort, with proceeds being invested back into protecting the archaeology of the site.

The operation will see the majority of the trees on the monument felled and removed from site as part of Shropshire Council’s management of the hillfort.

Previously owned by the Bradford Estate, the hillfort, along with much of Nesscliffe Hill and Hopton Hill, was planted up with non-native softwood trees throughout the 20th Century. But in 2017 the western edge of the hillfort, near Oliver’s Viewpoint, suffered severe wind damage.

A council spokesperson said: "As a result a number of trees began falling, ripping up root plates and damaging the archaeology of the hillfort, and became a danger to the public. This required immediate action to begin felling those trees remaining before they collapsed."

Ancient Monument Consent is now being sought from Historic England to begin the second phase of harvesting this autumn.

"The money raised from this will be used to protect the archaeology from further damage during the excavation of the timber. In the long term, the hillfort will be returned to heathland and the emergence of heather is already visible."

All operations follow a woodland management plan for Nesscliffe Hill and will continue for the next 10 years, as the woodlands are thinned to ensure the diversity of tree species present is given the best chance to flourish, along with enhanced native biodiversity creating a unique countryside site.

Countryside managers anticipate the views from the hillfort will be more extensive and the true scale of the impressive Iron Age structure will be revealed.

Archaeologists will be returning next summer and plan a whole range of community participation and interaction as part of this exciting long-term project.

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