Dudsbury Hill Fort project
An exciting project to interpret and conserve the Iron Age Hill Fort at Dudsbury and record the history of Girlguiding on it has started following the approval of grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Guide Camp, within the circular rings on part of the hill fort, was secured as a Girl Guide camp in 1931 following purchase of the land from Lord Wimborne for a nominal amount and it has been used since for guide camps and holidays for some 60 groups a year.
The Guides have teamed up with Bournemouth University and volunteers from West Parley Residents Association to help guides uncover some of the sites secrets and raise awareness of the site.
Initially a team from Bournemouth University is to undertake a geophysical ground survey of the interior of the circular hill fort to determine some of the archaeology under the subsoil and on the surface. To assist this work the West Parley Volunteers have cleared a large area of bracken, brambles and rhododendrons to allow the survey to be done. There is currently little evidence of occupation during the Iron Age and Roman period despite some digs being carried out in 1921 and 1998 so it is hoped that modern research techniques will uncover much more about the history of the site.
It is planned that a replica Iron Age Round House be constructed on the site and a new heritage footpath be created closer to the southern edge with interpretation panels explaining about the heritage of this unique site.
Located on a commanding clifftop on a bend in the Stour, when constructed the hill fort would have had views across the Stour valley from Hengistbury Head to Wimborne. However, much of the fort ramparts are now covered in mature trees but a number have been removed from 2 areas on the southern edge of the hill fort to restore the views to the valley.
As part of the work to gather more heritage information on the recent use of the site, Guides will be trained on how to collect oral histories and they will interview 12 former Guides and collect their memories relating to Girlguiding at Dudsbury Camp and the involvement of the Guide movement since 1930.
Guides will also work with Bournemouth University to develop and produce a 3D virtual environment visualisation of the Dudsbury site in the Iron Age aimed at all ages to be available on the project web site and on YouTube.
A final project Open Day and a re-enactment of the historical pageant that was held when the site was opened will be held at the beginning of July.
The project has been entered in the Peoples Project category of the West Parley entry into the 2017 Dorset Best Kept Village award in view of the collaboration between a number of groups in this important heritage project. Judging takes place in July.
The hill fort is on the route of the 4 ½ mile heritage walk around West Parley that passes most of the items of historical importance in the village. Details will be updated as the results of the Dudsbury project become available.