Wincobank Living History

Timeline Map

8000-4000 BC:
Mesolithic activity on the site, possibly a temporary camp where flint blades were manufactured.
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Bronze Age:
Possible Bronze Age burial mounds recorded in the vicinity of the hillfort in the 18th century, removed 'about the year 1795'. No associated Bronze Age artefacts recorded, though a flint knife of this period was found in Wincobank Wood in the 19th century.
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500 BC:
Probable construction date of Wincobank Hillfort, based on radiocarbon dating. Iron Age activity in the area is suggested by beehive querns (corn milling stones) found in the woods.
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AD 51:
Construction of Templeborough Roman fort, which marked the northern limit of the Roman Military Zone until the subjugation of Brigantia, to the north of the River Don, c.AD
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71-75.
The Roman fort may have been built partly to neutralise the potential threat of the hillfort.
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AD 100-400:
Occupation of the hillfort is likely to have been sporadic during the Roman period, though several pieces of 2nd-century Roman ceramic and a coin of Constantius Chlorus (AD 305-306) were recovered from the hillfort and its immediate vicinity. There is currently no evidence to indicate that the hillfort was involved in the Brigantian revolts against Roman rule in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries, and the site is likely to have been reclaimed by the wood by the 4th century.
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Early medieval period:
The site was possibly part of the British kingdom of Elmet in the post-Roman period, before coming under Anglo-Saxon control in the late 6th/early 7th centuries. It was then located along the southern border of Northumbria, and the hillfort may have been reoccupied periodically during outbreaks of hostility between Northumbria and Mercia. There is currently no archaeological evidence for any rebuilding or reoccupation of the hillfort during this period.
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1345:
Wincobank recorded as 'Winckley', possibly derived from the Old English 'Wineca's ley', meaning 'Wineca's forest clearing'.
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1442:
Place-name 'Winkowe' recorded, with the earlier 'Wineca' element supplemented by the Old English or Old Norse 'lowe/haugr', both of which mean 'mound' and may relate to the summit of the hill.
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16th to 17th century:
Wincobank Wood was managed for the Earl of Shrewsbury's estate as a ‘spring’ (coppice) wood. During the 17th century, the hillfort's eastern bank and ditch were levelled when a field boundary was built along the line of the ditch.
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1574:
Farm called 'Le Wynkeabancke' first recorded in a document of this date. The farm later became Wincobank Hall.
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Late 18th century:
Wincobank Hall and its estates purchased by John Sparrow, and the hall substantially rebuilt. 1790: Cottages shown on Winco Wood Lane, to the north-east of the hillfort, on a map of the lands associated with Wincobank Hall. Their date of construction is unknown, but it has been suggested that they were 16th-century in origin, with later modifications.
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1816:
Joseph Read purchased Wincobank Hall and further land near the hillfort. Read laid out gardens and pleasure grounds, meadows and plantations of 'exceeding beauty'.
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1837:
Winco Wood Lane shown as a 'bridle path to Sheffield' on an 1837 sale plan of Wincobank Hall and its estate. The hall was purchased by Joseph Read's daughter, Mary Rawson. The plan also showed a quarry at the junction of Winco Wood Lane and Jenkin Road.
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1844:
A plan showed a coal mine shaft within the quarry at Jenkin Road.
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1882:
The Poor Law survey map showed the Winco Wood Lane cottages as a row of six properties, three of which were very small.
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1887:
Construction began on 'Wincobank Castle', a tower house built by George Parkin, a former teacher, close to the north edge of the hillfort. The house was completed in 1907.
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1892:
Grimesthorpe Colliery had been established by this date.
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1899:
Archaeological excavation at Wincobank Hillfort, directed by Elijah Howarth, curator of Sheffield Museum, from August to October.
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1901:
Final sale of timber from Wincobank Wood.
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1903:
The Duke of Norfolk presented the hillfort and 48 acres of Wincobank Wood to the people of Sheffield. A second archaeological excavation was undertaken at the hillfort by the staff of Sheffield Museum.
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1905:
The OS map of this date showed allotments in the western part of Wincobank Wood.
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1914-1918:
An anti-aircraft gun emplacement was constructed on the south side of the hillfort, to counter potential Zeppelin air raids.
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1939-1944:
During the Second World War, the tower at Wincobank Castle was used as an observation post. The anti-aircraft gun emplacement was also brought back into use and a searchlight was located to the south-west of the hillfort. A barrage balloon was also located along Wincobank Hill, while part of Winco Wood Lane was reinforced to allow access for military vehicles.
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1960s:
Wincobank Castle was demolished in 1960. The cottages at Winco Wood Lane were subject to a compulsory purchase order in the early 1960s and had become largely derelict by 1967. They had been demolished by the time of the 1973 OS map.
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1969:
Yorkshire Television were granted permission to place a Radio Links Can on the top of Wincobank Hill, as the site's elevation made it an effective transmission location. The hill was also used for this purpose during BBC coverage of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.
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1979:
Archaeological watching brief conducted by Pauline Beswick during the cutting of a drainage ditch through the hillfort's rampart.
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Wincobank Wood

The wood is an 11-hectare, secondary ancient woodland that occupies the slopes of Wincobank Hill to the south and west of the hillfort. Woodland is likely to have covered the hill following the Ice Age, with areas subsequently cleared for prehistoric settlements and fields. 

The earliest surviving record of the wood dates from 1564, when William Dungworth was fined 12d for illegally felling trees within the 'green wood of the Lord at Wincobanke'. The wood is likely to have been managed as areas of coppices and timber in this period and was named as 'Winkobanke Springe' in 1596 and as 'Wincowe Wood' in 1637.

By 1810, Wincobank Wood comprised 81.5 acres of coppices and ‘standards’, single-stemmed trees that were sold for timber. The coppiced area was named ‘Great Wincoe’, while the hillfort stood in an area of standards named 'Wincoe Holt'. Sales of oak, rowan, ash and birch led to extensive tree clearance at the west of the wood by 1854, although the hillfort was 'clothed with trees and undergrowth' in 1870. Sales of wood ceased in 1901 and in 1904, the duke of Norfolk presented 48 acres of the woodland to Sheffield Corporation on condition that it was made available for recreation.

Local residents seeking firewood felled much of the northern part of the wood during the First World War, with further depletion during the 1926 General Strike and the inter-war Depression. By 1948, Sheffield City Council reported that Wincobank Wood was ‘for the most part devoid of vegetation', with the best remaining portion being 'some 10-15 acres’ in the north-east corner. In the 1960s, the council conducted a tree-planting programme to the west of the hillfort and in 1993, the wood became part of the South Yorkshire Forest initiative. Wincobank Wood subsequently formed part of the Heritage Lottery funded project 'Fuelling a Revolution: the Woods that Founded the Steel Country'. This funded various management works to secure the site boundaries and protect the wood.

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