It has take me a while to get around to reviewing the Hillforts of the Cheshire Ridge by Dan Garner. Although lockdown’s have allowed time to read, life gets in the way.

The summary for the book reads – 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.

Little in the way really exists in local publications, that concentrates on this fascinating area of prehistory in the Cheshire Landscape, this book multiplies that tenfold. Dan and others involved in the project have produced an methodical and insightful report.

I must admit to have being very excited to read through the book. I learnt a lot, and hope to be able to use the images and archaeological reports as a reference for any future projects or finds identification I may be involved in.

The topographic, geophysical, and LiDAR survey information within, also, I hope, will assist me further in the future in identifying similar archaeological features.

A fantastic and in depth report of a massive project. This book will be an important reference to anyone, like myself, interested in the prehistory of Cheshire.

I certainly recommend this book for those local to the sites and others interested in this area of archaeological research,

Find Hillforts of the Cheshire ridge here

Author: Dan Garner. 263 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. Available both in printed and e-versions.

Printed ISBN 9781784914660. Epublication ISBN 9781784914677.