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Finding traces of earliest farmers in the Golden Valley

Excavations of 5,000 year old hilltop sites are helping us learn more about the lives of Herefordshire’s earliest farmers.

Herefordshire Council’s archaeology team have been working with students
and staff of Manchester University to explore hilltop sites in Dorstone and Peterchurch parishes as part of an ongoing project to learn more about the lives of the first Neolithic farmers in the county.

The excavations this summer have focused on three sites, at which worked flints and pottery from the Early Neolithic period indicate the use of prominent hilltops locally, in the centuries either side of 3,500BC.

Professor Julian Thomas of Manchester University, said: “This was the age when the great megalithic chambered tombs like Arthur’s Stone were also built. It was a period that witnessed a remarkable first flourishing of farming groups who herded cattle in clearings and open country hereabouts, and who gathered at specially adapted hilltops to exchange goods and hold tribal meetings. This exciting project is looking for the first time in Britain simultaneously at a group of such sites within direct sight and close walking distance of one another.”

Local residents and interested members of the public are invited to visit the excavations at Dorstone Hill (at the top of the hill between Bredwardine and Dorstone) on Sunday 9th September between 1pm and 4pm.

A 40-minute talk by Professor Thomas on Wednesday 12th September will summarise the results of the 2012 excavations and will explain the wider importance of this local project. This will take place at the St. Peter’s Church Centre at Peterchurch at 7.30pm.