An Iron Age Hillfort
"What a fascinating piece of history we have on our doorstep!"
"We have heard stories of grisly battles and the decapitated bodies that were found on the site. And as for poor old King Ethelbert - he also lost his head here! He was bound and beheaded and his body unceremoniously disposed of on the banks of the River Lugg".
WHY IS SUTTON WALLS IMPORTANT?
The scheduled ancient monument of Sutton Walls is 4 miles north of the city of Hereford and is one of the most famous hill forts in Britain. Since its excavation by Dame Kathleen Kenyon between 1948 and 1951 it has appeared in nearly every book on the early history of Britain. Her excavations revealed evidence of settlement on Sutton Walls from around the 3rd or 2nd century BC until the end of the 3rd century AD. Her most extraordinary find was a ‘war cemetery’ with twenty-four skeletons, many decapitated, at the west entrance. The hill fort has from the 8th century been associated with King Offa and King Ethelbert.
Excavations by Time Team and local archaeologists in the Lugg flood plain – in Sutton, Marden and Wellington - have revealed evidence of settlement in this area from the Neolithic until the Middle Ages. Sutton Walls has been at the centre of some of the most dramatic and intense power struggles of the Iron Age, Roman and Saxon periods that have shaped the history of Herefordshire.
Sadly the hillfort has suffered over the years and the central area was quarried for sand and gravel in the 1940s and subsequently used for landfill until 1985.
The hill fort has been categorised as “At Risk” on the Historic England, Heritage at Risk register since their records began due to lack of management of the site, and is largely at risk from general deterioration; unmanaged scrub and trees which may be affecting the below ground archaeology; diminished ground cover which is allowing erosion of the sculpted ramparts and burrowing animals increasing in number on the site. This is altering the significance of the monument and urgent action is needed to prevent deterioration and improve the monument’s condition.
With no obvious solutions to complex issues, a detailed professionally produced conservation management plan is required to save and restore this nationally important, but neglected, monument for future generations.