ONE of the most prominent man-made features of the Malvern Hills may be a lot older than previously thought. Archaeologists surveying the hills have uncovered evidence that the Shire Ditch, which runs along the hills' ridgeline, could date back to the late Bronze Age... continues...
Visited on 4.7.09 and walked the length of Shire Ditch from Hangman's Hill in the south (it actually continues further south to Midsummer Hill ) to the northern end between Worcestershire Beacon and North Hill. In between are the British Camp hillfort, Colwall round barrows and some wonderful views.
A ditch extends all along the top of the Malvern Range, which is said to have been constructed by Gilbert de Clare, the (red) Earl of Gloucester, who married Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward the 1st. The Earl resided at Hanley Castle and received the right of Malvern Chase as his wife's dower, so, wishing to separate this from the lands of the Bishop of Hereford, he constructed a ditch. It is hardly possible that a ditch alone without a fence or pallisading could keep deer and other game from straying. He swore his usual oath, "By the Splendour of God, if I catch any man trespassing upon my manor I will cut off his hands."
What an unutterable prat. This is from 'Camps on the Malvern Hills' by F G Hilton Price, in the journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, v10, 1881. W S Symonds also calls it the 'Red Earl's Ditch' in his 'Hanley Castle' novel (see Waum's Well).