Looking after the WrekinThe hillfort is a Scheduled Ancient Monumentunder the protection of English Heritage andis owned and managed by the Raby Estate.The hill itself is part of the Shropshire HillsArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty and isin private ownership. The Wrekin Forestconservation plan was produced in 2007,co-ordinated by Shropshire Wildlife Trust.This led to the establishment of the WrekinForest Partnership, which aims to ensure thatthe Wrekin and surrounding areas are givenappropriate protection as Telford expandsover the next 20 years.Metal detectors are neither to be carried norused on the hillfortOver the years the hillfort has taken quitea battering. Every time someone climbs theramparts a little bit more of it crumbles away, soplease don’t! To avoid erosion of the grasslandplease stick to the paths whenever possible.WithingtonRushtonMuchWenlockWrockwardineLeatonTHEWREKINLeightonShawbirchTheErcallLittleWenlockBuildwasLeegomeryWellingtonLawleyKetleyLightmoorCoalbrookdaleIronbridgeB4373BroseleyTrenchOakengatesTELFORDDawleyTe lfordTown ParkMadeleyStirchleyCoalportGranvilleNature ReserveTHEWREKINHIπFORTFor enquiries relating to the management ofthe hillfort please ring the Raby Estate (01952740223).The Wrekin Forest conservation plan is availableat www.shropshirewildlifetrust.org.ukRiver SevernRiver Te rnB5063A442A518A49A5B4380A5B4394WroxeterRoman CityB4380B4394DirectionsA5Take the Wellington turn off the A5 and go in thedirection of Little Wenlock. Park in the Forest Glencar park or along the edge of the lane.DogsB5061A4169A5223B4375A442M54A442B5060A442A4169A5B5060Well-behaved dogs are welcome on The Wrekin,but please remember to clean up after them.Designed by MA Creativewww.macreative.co.ukPhotography by Neil Aldridge, Mike Ashton, JohnHawkins, Ben Osborneand Stephanie HayesIllustrations by Jeremy Pyke2,500 years of historyThe People’sMountainThe Wrekin is Wellington’s little mountain,its paths pounded by the feet of hundreds ofpeople from near and far every week. Risingfrom the flat ground of the Severn flood plain,the hill is a landmark visible from all roundthe county; welcoming us home when we’vebeen away. For hundreds of years people havebeen drawn to climb it for its grand views,its potential for adventure and for the senseof distance from the routines and dramas ofeveryday life.Affection for the Wrekin is centuries-old. Everyfeature of the hill has earned a name from the Raven’sbowl pool to the Needle’s Eye – a craggy outcropnear the summit. Here is the ultimate symbol oflocalness; tradition has it that only when you havepassed through the cleft between the rocks can youconsider yourself a true Salopian.Swing boats andgingerbreadSummer fairs brought merry-making to the hillfor hundreds of years. Swing boats, gingerbreadand ale booths appeared for The Wrekin Wakes,which also involved a battle between localminers and countrymen. In the 1750s this gota bit rough and the militia was sent in to breakit up; by the 1820s the Wakes were discouragedand abandoned. The past few years havebrought the annual Wrekin barrel race, revivingthe competitive spirit in an altogether friendlyway.Work in the woodsWrekin’s oak woods are valued today for theirbeauty and wildlife. For centuries they alsoprovided people with a living. Hundreds ofcharcoal hearths can still be found among thetrees, evidence of lives lived in the woods wherecharcoal burners moved between several kilns,tending their smoking fuel, highly valued in theemerging foundries of Ironbridge, before theintroduction of coke.For the Wrekin, a hill some600 million years ago,these are the events of lastweek. When we walk to itssummit, we are followingin the footsteps of peoplewho lived here thousandsof years ago. This placehas been the centre ofpeople’s lives; somewheregenerations have lived,made merry, quarrelledand died.WildlfeThe hill is particularly valuable for its woodlandand its ancient trees. Towards the summit thewoods give way to heathland with heather,bilberry and wavy hair-grass. Ravens, buzzardsand occasionally peregrine wheel overheadand wheatears, pied flycatchers and tree pipitsreturn to breed every spring. During spring andsummer you might catch a lizard sunning itselfon a stone or scuttling off into the heather.The Wrekin is the eighth highest summitin the county with a magnificentpanorama from thesummit, said to takein 17 counties on aclear day.
THE WREKIN HILLFORTHillforts were the centres of Iron Age society, seats of power, home to great chieftains,druids, warriors, their families and servants. The Wrekin hillfort was probably thecapital of the Cornovii tribe, who lived here before the Roman invasion. From theirfarmsteads in the surrounding countryside, people would have gathered here to tradeand mingle for festivities and fairs.South-west gateMoundWoodenpalisadeHell GateGrain storeRoundhousesRampartsHeaven GateFragments of the pastFlints from Neolithic and Early Bronze Age timesindicate the presence of people here as long as4,000 years ago. Fortifications followed some timelater, early in the first millennium BC, startingwith a simple earth rampart. Several centurieson, around 400 BC, the inner circuit of rampartswas constructed and the outer one abandoned.The main path to the summit passes throughthe entrances to both these ancient earthworks;the outer one has become known as Hell Gate,the inner as Heaven Gate, named, according tofolklore, after battles during Cromwell’s time.Fortress WrekinThe earthworks, now eroded by weather and time,would have been awesomely impressive whenfirst constructed; much steeper and higher, withthe inner rampart faced with stone. Woodenpalings set into the banks and guard houses at theentrances would have given the fort a formidablepresence.Iron Age people would have looked across to manyother hillforts, south as far as the Malvern hills;west deep into Wales. Its panoramic views gavethe Wrekin’s inhabitants a commanding, highlydesirable position.Fragments of pottery and remains of wooden hutsunearthed by archaeologists in 1939 and 1973give us tangible evidence of people’s domesticlives on the hill.Roman invasionThe fort was abandoned in the mid-1st centuryAD. It may have been taken by force; the discoveryof two Roman javelin heads, one by the north-eastgate and the other nearby on the Ercall, suggest thispossibility. Certainly the Romans would never haveallowed a tribal remnant to continue occupyingthis defended hilltop enclosure, overlooking asit did their new city, Viroconium (Wroxeter). Noevidence has been found that the Wrekin was everre-occupied after the departure of the Romans.