THE National Trust has written to the Portman Hunt amid claims made locally that its horses and hounds damaged Hambledon Hill, one of the finest examples of an iron age hill fort in Dorset.
It is claimed the hunt left the recognised bridleway and came across the hill during a half term hunt last month.
Local resident Jerry Broadway, believes this is the second time the hunt has damaged the hill fort. He said: “After leaving the bridleway the hunt scattered livestock which were panicked by the hounds who were completely out of control.
“On this occasion extensive damage was done by the horses to the hill generally, and most worryingly the Neolithic Longbarrow which is over 3,000 years old.
“They have now twice been guilty of damage to a scheduled ancient monument. What, I wonder will it take to make them actually take real notice?”
Meanwhile, National Trust West & North Dorset general manager Helen Mann confirmed complaints had been received that a hunt crossed Hambledon Hill.
She said: “It appears that the hunt, while crossing the hill on a bridleway, left the track to round up some dogs which had got out of control.
“Hambledon Hill is a remarkable and important site for both wildlife and archaeology and we have written to the hunt to remind them that they must stay on the bridleway when crossing the hill.
“Any horses being ridden off the bridleway risk damage and erosion to the fragile Iron Age ramparts which give the hill its distinctive appearance.”
Hambledon Hill was acquired by the National Trust last year. Built over 2,000 years ago, the massive earthwork defences lay over one of the most significant early Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe, dating back almost 6,000 years, and is a place half of British butterfly species call home.
Standing at twice the height of the White Cliffs of Dover and taller than the London Shard, Hambledon Hill occupies an area of land the size of 50 football pitches.
From the summit of the hill for you can see across three counties – Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.
The Portman Hunt was unavailable for comment.
Source : The Westmorland Gazette