Fin Cop Hillfort Derbyshire, Scene of an Iron Age Massacre

Our artists residency at Buxton museum has led us to some beautiful places out in the Derbyshire landscape but Fin Cop hill fort in Mensal Dale, Derbyshire, holds a special place in our hearts.

On a very misty morning last Friday we, together with ceramicist Caroline Chouler-Tissier and storyteller Gordon Maclellan were lucky enough to be able to walk along the ramparts with the Project Manager of the recent hill fort excavations and local historian, Ann Hall.

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We will all be making a piece of art work inspired by the hill fort which will be shown in the new museum galleries later this year.

On the hike to the top of the hill, which was beautiful yet challenging, we gained an insight into the historical importance of the site as a whole as Ann pointed out other possible barrow sites on the way up. We took the following picture on a previous visit which shows the hill’s imposing size with its incredibly steep drop.

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As the mists lifted on the way up and the sun peeped out, waking up the thrushes and the larks, the views were spectacular.

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The view from the top of the hill was even better.

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The peace and tranquility of this place offers no clue to the atrocity that occurred thousands of years ago. Recent excavations of the hill fort have revealed the bodies of women, children and babies, some still in their mother’s womb. No belongings were found with them. Some may even have been alive when the wall was pushed on top of the them. The men are believed to have been enslaved by the captors of the hill fort or killed in battle elsewhere. From the evidence already uncovered, it has been estimated that there may be up to 400 bodies lying beneath our feet here.

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Being able to walk in the footsteps of these people was very special and a huge privilege.

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This is a beautiful place tinged with sadness. It is difficult not to be moved by such a place.

With many thanks to Ann Hall for taking the time to show us this beautiful place.

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