Welcome ! This is a blog for people who want to be a friend of Wincobank Hill, for those who are fascinated, curious or concerned about the unique hill fort set high above Sheffield's Don Valley, encircled by ancient woodland that conceals the mysteries of history.

Who was here and why? Did they live, work or keep watch here? What part did this place play in the politics of an emerging nation? Was this the cradle of the British metal industry? And where was the water?

So many people are beginning to retell their stories, ask good questions and make suggestions that it's time to share what is happening ....

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Christmas Tree for the Common

It sounded such a simple idea - a Christmas Tree to light up that dark stretch of open space opposite Sandstone Road.  The vision of families gathered round the glittering tree singing in festive harmony was irresistible.  Community First funding was just a bid away, and the North East Community Assembly were encouraging, but securing the funding - as always - is just the start.

So - what do you need for a community Christmas Tree?  A tree, lights, and electricity.   And a lot of energy, faith and good humour to bring it all together.

 I was reliably told that the only person who could accomplish all this was our North East Community Assembly Manager, Alison Rayner.  I know now that this statement was true.  But poor Alison was up to her ears in pine needles and other more important work so I  thought I'd have a go.  I have learned a lot.  I have been out with the Woodlands Manager to look at beautiful trees in the nursery all waiting to find good homes and I have met the SWEEP team - Sheffield Woodlands Environment Enhancement Project who work with volunteers to make our woodlands even more beautiful.

I have learned that a hole can be just too big for a tree and seen how small and lonely a baby Cedar looks on the back of a lorry.

 I have seen how the SWEEP  team anchored the tree down so that hopefully, it won't blow over in the gales.  It is tightly wired in, using that magic Sheffield invention: The Gripple.   The cavity has been packed with yummy compost and the soil packed tightly back in.  A plastic conduit takes the cable from power source to the tree.  At least that's the plan.

I feel I have now met most of the Amey team who now look after our street lights.  I have discovered that there is more than one way to dig a trench, and several directions in which it can be dug.  I can see that sometimes things just don't go according to plan and I have perfected that deep intake of breath and shake of the head that can only be accomplished when wearing a high vis jacket.
 With a lot of goodwill and persistence, many phone calls resulting in the the miraculous appearance of a generator, we finally managed to connect the tree to electricity.

Friends brought home made decorations to dress the tree and soon it was sparkling with silver tinsel and gold foil.  The nearby trees which had already lost their leaves were festooned with ribbon and the tiny flickering battery candle lamps which had lit up the woodlands for the lantern pageant were hung in the bare branches to add to the magic.
As dusk fell to darkness, the families came out. Even Santa turned up with a big bag of chocolate.  From Jingle Bells to Silent Night, Away in the Manger to the the Twelve Days of Christmas we did our best to sing the Christmas season in.

There is a bit of remedial work to be done now and a few more phone calls to be made.  But now, when I see the Christmas lights across the city, I will think of all the people who have done their bit to make the lights shine and I will say a silent thank you to all, for brightening up the long dark winter nights.  Penny.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sunshine ahead

Spring will soon be here and our lovely common will be blessed with sunshine daffodils thanks to the work of the volunteers who have been working with the North East Action Team to brighten up the neighbourhood by planting bulbs.  In the grey days of this everlasting depression flowers are a simple pleasure and joy.  Thank you.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Wincobank Lanterns Light Up the Hill 2012

 Over 250 people came together from local schools and across the area for a memorable and magical walk back through time to the days of the Roman occupation of Britain. 

Carrying willow and tissue lanterns made in school, the children and their families  set out in a procession led by drummers to seek the rebel leader King Caratacus.  
 Passing between fluttering ribbons and twinkling candle lamps, the parade entered the mysterious darkness of the ancient wood safe in the company of City Council stewards.  

Out on the hillside at the end of the woodland path, the sparkling lights of Sheffield and the Don Valley lit up the night with a warm glow. 

Turning up the south-west slope of Wincobank Hill the walkers made their way up towards a lone piper playing by a glowing brazier. 

Drawing breath, people turned to look back at the path they had climbed and gasped to see the millions of glittering lights stretching far into the distance. 

One child was overheard to exclaim: “Oh look – it’s the world!”

This view from the hill is seldom seen at night and the memory will stay with us all for years to come.

 Following the trail of candle lamps the procession moved up the hill to find archaeology students from the University of Sheffield working metal on an anvil beside the roaring flames of a reconstructed iron age forge.

The atmospheric Celtic melodies from Foxy Music instrumentalists drifted through the air and by the time the line of lantern bearers had crossed the hill fort, the children were buzzing with excitement.
 Four huge flags fluttered against the night sky. Beneath them, illuminated by torchlight and the glow of braziers, members of the 53 Theatre Group captivated the crowd with a re-enactment of the betrayal of King Caratacus by Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, who according to Tacitus, delivered him to the Romans in chains.   

But some say that Cartimandua deserves to be remembered as a wise and strategic leader, determined to protect her people from the Romans.
 The crowd were immediately involved in the dilemma faced by Cartimandua who had made a trade agreement with the invaders, securing peace. Caratacus was trying to raise a rebel army and so threatened the peace of the region. 

As Caratacus was led off in chains, the weary, happy, but hungry procession continued down the dark path between the oak trees and back to the warm and welcoming Upper Wincobank Chapel for hot chocolate and cake. 

Many thanks to Catherine Nuttgens and James Smith for helping to organise this amazing event which was funded by Communities First and Natural England

The event was supported by volunteers from by Friends of Wincobank Hill, Sheffield University Department of Archaeology, 53 Theatre Group, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Upper Wincobank Chapel and Wincobank Youth Group.  Thanks also to Foxy Music, Anna-Mercedes Wear and Helena Reynolds for their great contribution.  

Monday, 9 April 2012

Precious Voices at Easter

If you were up in the Wincobank woods on Easter Day you would have been surpirsed to see the geodome brought by researchers from the University of Sheffield  as part of the fascinating Precious Voices project designed to capture phrases in local dialect and how people feel about the words they use.

This project has developed out of the the "Sheffield Voices" project during which students from the University of Sheffield worked with the Sheffield Local Studies Library to create a finding guide of literary dialect items.    Watch out for the team at local events through the summer!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wincobank Roman Ridge at risk. ACT NOW!

This is the route of Roman Ridge under threat from housing development. The actual man-made dyke, now thought to have been constructed long before the Romans even set foot on this island, has probably been destroyed by previous mining activity but that does not mean it should be disregarded as an area of historic importance.  It is the joining section between remaining parts of the Scheduled Monument and one of the few remaining sections of its 27km stretch where you can get a sense of what it was like to travel along the prehistoric causeway and pass by Wincobank Hill Fort just as today's travellers drive past Sheffield on the M1 and glance up at the tree covered hilltop and wonder what is up there.  A real and tangible connection with the past to be preserved and experienced so that we can understand the full story of technological advance and the engineering that made this country great.
Help us save this designated Open Space from the challenge to its protected status.  Make your obection now.  Email howard.baxter@sheffield.gov.uk quoting planning application reference 11/03972/FUL.  The deadline to objections to the housing development is 1st February 2012.
For further details visit our website http://www.wincobankhill.btck.co.uk/ or email friendsofwincobankhill@gmail.com

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A New Year surprise

The 3rd Annual General meeting got off to an amazing start when new member John Abdullah and his daughter arrived with a very special surprise - two tiny flint tools which he had found and which have now been dated to between 1,500 and 2,500 BC. The workmanship is extraordinarily delicate and has to be seen at close quarters to be believed.
John has kindly loaned them to the Friends of Wincobank Hill.

Lord Mayor Cllr Dr Sylvia Dunkley and her husband stayed for the evening to hear a round up of the year's FoWH activities and plans by the Woodlands Heritage team for a new information and archive website, the restoration of paths, interpretative signage and maps for walks on the hill. 
Terry Howard, Chair of Sheffield Ramblers, introduced to us the longer walks he has developed that incorporate the hill and he also talked about his Great Grandfather's connection with Grimesthorpe Colliery.   
Ron Clayton gave an update on the campaign to reveal the ruins of Sheffield Castle and Lewis Sadler from Sheffield Astronomy Society offered to lead star-gazing sessions on Wincobank Common near the Cartimandua Star-Crossed Queeen monument which shows a winter sky star map. 
Finally David Anson brought us up to speed on the threat of further development on the Sandstone estate, on the south side of the hill just a stone's throw away from the monument. 

The following day news reached us that the application has now been lodged.
The Council has received a Full Planning Application that you may want to comment on.

To comment on an application you can either

• Go to our website www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning and follow the links to search for the planning application 11/03972/FUL.

 You can view a paper copy of the application, but you must make arrangements in advance by contacting the Records team on (0114) 20 39183.