The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Churchdown Hill

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


One of two unvisited sites within walking distance of my house, this has niggled and nagged away at me for a few years now. So a beautiful January Sunday (18.1.2015) finally gets me off the sofa to go and have a proper look.

The walk up from Churchdown is straightforward enough, passing the wonderfully named "Criftycraft Lane" on my way. At Churchdown Green the ice makes the tarmac suddenly treacherous, but thankfully it's a short enough bit of uphill skating.

Below the church, the lane is bordered on its right by what appears to be a large bank, the sort of thing that could suggest an inturned entrance to an Iron Age site. However, it could just be a natural crease in the hillside. Overgrown with brambles and scrub, it's not easy to investigate much further.

The lane opens out to a vista of green banks. Not anything ancient unfortunately, just the grassed sides of one of several reservoirs that now fill the centre of the hilltop. Along with quarrying, these may well have destroyed much chance of establishing its prehistoric origins. Round the corner, the church is very striking, perched on top of a huge mound - natural? Hmm.

The corner of the churchyard looks out over the Severn plain with the steep Cotswold escarpment forming its eastern edge. I can count more than half a dozen Iron Age forts and settlements visible from here, with more yet on the Malverns ridge over to the northwest.

Leaving the churchyard and its super-friendly cat familiar, a little gate leads onto a footpath circumnavigating the rim of the hilltop. I'm soon into an area of hideous Cotswold mud, the kind that clings to your boots and adds several pounds. The ground drops fairly steeply, and there appears to be a slight embankment along the top, perhaps suggesting some counterscarping has taken place.

Round to the west the walk would be lovely, under a spacious canopy of deciduous woodland, if it weren't for the continuing hindrance of the mud underfoot. The highest part of the hill is at the southwestern corner, up a slope of particularly slippery mud. Here a toposcope points out the distant Black Mountains, as if their bright white snow covering were not enough today.

The southern side of the hill is the steepest, and there is no obvious sign of anything that could be a man-made or enhanced earthwork here . It is a lovely spot though, as the sun filters through the slender pine trees.

Although nothing about the visit today confirms categorically whether there was a fort here, it would certainly be a fine spot for one, with tremendous visibility in all directions and natural defences from its steep slopes. Iron Age finds have turned up within the site and I'm inclined to believe it more likely than not that it would have been occupied and probably fortified too.

With one itch finally scratched, from here I head off to another one.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
15th February 2015ce
Edited 15th February 2015ce

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