The cultural history of this distinctive area is ingrained in a landscape that was fought over for centuries. The Iron Age hillforts that crown most of the prominent hilltops reflect a time when people felt the need to live in fortified communities. After the Norman Conquest, the close proximity of the Shropshire Hills to Wales saw many centuries of unrest and cross-border raiding, and the earthworks of medieval motte and bailey castles serve as a reminder to these unsettled times. The archaeological heritage of the AONB also includes Bronze Age funerary and ritual monuments (eg. round barrows, stone circles), Roman roads and villas, medieval churches, deserted settlements and field systems, and remains of ridge and furrow cultivation.
The built heritage reflects local materials from the landscape, with a rich legacy of half-timbered buildings and the use of local stone in churches and larger houses. Former mining sites, often associated with haphazard ‘squatter’ settlement with small enclosures encroaching onto common land, are found especially around the Stiperstones at Snailbeach and the Bog, and around the Clee Hills. The Welsh influence is strong in the west and reflected in many place names. The Shropshire Hills has the greatest concentration of medieval castle earthworks anywhere in Britain, and Stokesay Castle near Craven Arms is described as the finest and best preserved 13th Century fortified manor house in England.
For more information on heritage in the Shropshire Hills and the rest of the county, visit www.shropshirehistory.org.uk