This the best place for viewing the Herefordshire Beacon (otherwise known as British Camp) and the southern Malvern Hills. The main axis of the Malvern Hills lies to the left (east) of the Beacon. Features on this axis include: Broad Down in the middle distance (marked in the accompanying image) and, beyond that, Swinyard Hill. On a clear day you can see May Hill, with its distinctive clump of trees, lying also on the Malverns axis.
A moving force
The Herefordshire Beacon is a distinctive feature, well known for its archaeological value as a ramparted Iron-age fort. It also has an interesting geological history. Although it is composed of the same type of ancient hard rock as the rest of the Malvern Hills, you will probably notice that it stands about nearly a kilometre to the west of the main north-south Malverns ridge. This is because it has been pushed there out of line by huge tectonic forces. These forces were most active in an ancient mountain-building episode known as the Variscan orogeny, about 300 million years ago. There are faults running across the northern edge of the Beacon (nearest to you where the main A449 passes through), which indicate that thrust responsible for the displacement of the Beacon came from the south-east.
Iron Age Fort
British Camp is one of the most impressive Iron Age Forts in Britain. It has a great defensive position, although that may not have been its only function. The series of steep ramparts have sometimes been described as a ‘giant wedding cake’. Folklore claims it to be the site of the last stand of the British chieftain Caractacus against the Roman invasion. `This is thought to be unlikely, although the famous composer Elgar wrote a long piece of music about it.
The Camp is a scheduled ancient monument, maintained by the Malvern Hills Trust. Construction commenced in the 2nd century BC, followed by several phases of enlargement along the spurs north and south of the central hill. Gates were built in three places. Until recently, the fort was thought to have been built for a purely defensive reasons, to be used in times of trouble. However, a large number of round hut platforms have been identified, suggesting that there was permanent occupancy for at least 500 years, and supporting up to 4000 people. There is evidence that the flat top and uppermost ramparts of the Camp have been modified more recently. For a short time it became a Norman fort, perhaps with a wooden stockade at the very top. Nowadays British Camp is one of the most popular spots for visitors on the Malverns ridge.
Task Site 8 Question
Why are there big ridges around Herefordshire Beacon. Are they due to?
b) Ancient fortifications
d) WW2 tank traps