Good, bad or ugly – what do you think of the controversial Thetford Castle Hill stairs?
PUBLISHED: 14:12 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:46 28 April 2017
It is a popular tourist attraction and destination for locals but Thetford’s Castle Hill is the centre of a storm surrounding a controversial staircase.
It is thought to be the tallest motte in England and is one of only five Iron Age hill forts in the county - but the main talking point of Castle Hill is not the ancient site’s history but the stairs which have been built on it.
The steps, which are nearing the end of completion, have been constructed to help preserve the site.
However they have caused a stir among residents who have branded them as “horrendous” and “horrid”.
A petition has been set up on Change.org to force Thetford Town Council to change the stairs which have “destroyed the look and feel of this ancient monument” and replace them with something more sympathetic to the surroundings.
However many people have said the stairs will allow them to take their children up the hill more safely and will allow better access for people.
Sally Norman and Alison Carr were visiting the site with their children.
Miss Norman, who lives in Ixworth but grew up in villages surrounding Thetford, said she did not like the steps.
The 42-year-old said: “If they were more natural looking they would not be so bad. It looks a bit like an escalator.
“Personally I would rather there was nothing on the hill. I have lived around here for years and came here as a child and it is an ancient monument and it seems a shame to put something modern on it.
“It is also meant to be a challenge for children to climb it.”
Mrs Carr, 37 and who lives in Bury St Edmunds, was visiting Castle Hill for the first time and supported the steps.
She said: “I think they are a good idea but they could have done something to blend them in more.
“I would not go up without the steps. I am not good with heights and neither is my son. We will come back when the steps are done.”
On Facebook, Hayley Burrows said: “Looking forward to being able to go up there!”
And Dave Leggett said: “If they stop the monument from eroding away then good.”
Why were the stairs built?
Thetford Town Council took over the ownership of the site in 2008 and have said due to its “previous lack of management” and erosion, the site was put on the national monuments at risk register.
Natural England, Historic England and Norfolk Historic Environmental Services agreed a plan to install a stairway to the top to prevent further erosion.
The stairs will not be officially opened for people to use until Friday, April 28.
Despite signs warning people not to use the stairs because fittings still need to be finished and health and safety checks need to take place, people have still been ignoring the signs.
A spokesman for the town council said: “The steps have proved popular over the last week despite them not being open, with some families using the steps to get up the hill.
“We would tell the public they should not use the steps until the launch because if they do they are doing it at their own risk.”
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