The Habitats and Hillforts of Cheshire's Sandstone Ridge Landscape Partnership Project was focussed on six of Cheshire hillforts and their surrounding habitats and landscapes. It aimed to develop understanding of the chronology and role of the hillforts and encourage local interest and involvement in their maintenance.
The Cheshire hillforts are some of the most conspicuous features of the prehistoric landscape in Cheshire, located on the distinctive Cheshire Sandstone Ridge. They have been subject to years of archaeological research and investigation, however this has delivered only a limited understanding of their chronology, function, occupation history, economy and status. These hillforts are major elements of the prehistory of the region, but the lack of information about them is a major gap in our understanding. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Habitats and Hillforts Landscape Partnership Project focused on six of the hillforts and their surrounding habitats and landscapes. The aim of the project was not only to develop archaeological understanding, but also to raise awareness of these special assets in the landscape and the management issues they face. The Habitats and Hillforts Project was a collaborative partnership, led by Cheshire West and Chester Council, with Historic England, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission, as well as private landowners.These landowners and land managers came together to share approaches to managing heritage assets on the Sandstone Ridge. The project core team was assisted by university specialists and archaeological contractors in surveying, excavating and researching the hillforts. A range of techniques including archival research, geophysical survey, earthwork survey, lidar, fieldwalking, excavation and palaeoenvironmental analysis, was employed to develop our understanding of these significant sites. A large and dedicated group of volunteers and students joined in this work, which encouraged more people to enjoy these assets and take an active role in their management. The Habitats and Hillforts Project has shed new light on the Cheshire Hillforts. Their chronology can now be seen to have developed from middle/late Bronze Age origins, much earlier than traditionally accepted. The possible development of distinct architectural styles in their construction can be suggested and an enhanced understanding of their surrounding landscape has been achieved.This volume details the results of the four year project, and sets out how these contribute to a deeper understanding of the ordering of the landscape in western Cheshire during the later prehistoric period and beyond. It should form a vital resource for informing future research priorities regarding the late Bronze Age and Iron Age of both Cheshire and the wider North West region.
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