An ancient Hampshire site has had a makeover by a project involving youngsters and artists.
Buckland Rings is an Iron Age hill fort on the outskirts of Lymington, mainly used by walkers and until now there was nothing to mark it out as a historic site.
But now mysterious figures resembling Celtic gods loom out of the mist, seats made to look like Iron Age tools are there for weary walkers and information boards tell visitors about the fort.
A New Forest charity SPUD Youth was behind the project to breathe life into the site. SPUD Youth is an award winning workshop programme run for young people aged 12 and upwards who are interested in architecture, urban design and public art. It is a weekly free programme run in term-time near Lymington.
Students have the opportunity to work with professional architects, designers and student architects. They will learn new skills and knowledge that will enhance their existing studies, add significantly to their portfolios and help them stand out from others, particularly with college applications
Last year members of SPUD Youth spent the morning at Lymington market researching the public's knowledge of Buckland Rings with questionnaires to find out who uses the site and how it can be improved so more people would be encouraged to visit.
The group then chose artists to work with and worked with them on final designs.
Buckland Rings dates 4th century BC to 1st century AD and early historians thought it was Roman. It has well preserved triple banks and double ditches but it may have started out with a single bank and ditch system. This type of site is rare in lowland areas and as such is the best preserved and most important in the Hampshire/Dorset basin.
To get ideas SPUD Youth visited the Andover Museum of the Iron Age, Danebury Hillfort, Figsbury Ring and Salisbury Museum.
The co-director of SPUD Youth Mark Drury said: “People didn’t know which bit was the hillfort, where the gateway to it was or what it once looked like. Now people can know more about site and are more likely to visit the museum. People are now already using the site more. It is a unique site in Lymington with a special history, what was going in needed to be subtle. People have been talking about making Buckland Rings more engaging for 20 years.”
The most eye-catching addition has to be Guardians of the Gate, the sculpture by Katie Surridge a London based artist. These are three figures made of a durable Corten Steel body with plasma cut leaves and horns which were cast in bronze from three large sets of red deer antlers. The design was partly inspired by the horned Celtic god Cernunnos.
The seating is by Winchester based artist Nicola Henshaw and her intriguing seating design inspired by the tools used in the Iron Age such as spear-heads and cutting tools.
Interpretation boards were designed Harrison Alcock a young artist from Bournemouth and one of the boards uses a 3D model using a LIDAR survey of Buckland Rings.
SPUD Youth will be launching two trails at Buckland Rings on Saturday April 22 when there is a family open day. There will be an authentic display of Iron Age weapons, cooking and a chance for youngsters to have a mini battle and there will be prizes for the best Iron Age costume.
There is no parking at the site so visitors will need to walk or cycle. The entrance to Buckland Rings is on the A337 approach to Lymington between the railway bridge and the Monkey House pub.