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Brown Clee Hill is the highest hill in the rural Englishmarker county of Shropshiremarker, at 540 metres above sea level. It is one of the Clee Hillsmarker, and is in the Shropshire Hillsmarker Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Geography

Brown Clee Hill lies five miles north of its sister and neighbour, Titterstone Clee Hillmarker. The highest peak of the hill is Abdon Burf, at 540 metres high with Clee Burf at 510m.

Much more of Brown Clee Hill is private land than on Titterstone Clee, and large areas are covered with coniferous plantations. The eastern expanse of the hill is in possession of the Burwarton Estate under ownership of Lord Boyne, whilst the western fringes of the hill are owned by various private land owners and the parish of Clee St Margret.

The common land features the remains of where an Iron Age hill fort once stood .

Nearby towns are Ludlowmarker, Cleobury Mortimermarker, Church Strettonmarker, Broseleymarker, Bridgnorthmarker and Much Wenlockmarker.

Several air traffic control radar masts on the summit of the hill can be seen for many miles around. They, along with the ones on top of Titterstone Clee Hill build up a picture of all the aircraft in a hundred mile radius.

A toposcope (recently built) points out local landmarks and is sited at the summit.

History

Several hill forts are dotted around the Clee Hillsmarker, and Nordy Bankmarker, the last intact survivor of three Iron Age hill forts on Brown Clee. The other two, at Abdon Burf and Clee Burf, have been largely lost to quarrying activity. Nordy Bank occupies a sloping site and its ramparts are up to three metres high. It was built some time in the British Iron Age first Millennium BC and gives a commanding view of the local countryside.

Quarrying was for long the main income of the area, and it was widely known as a dangerous and gruelling job. People would walk to the Abdon Quarry on Brown Clee Hill from as far as Bridgnorthmarker and Ludlowmarker, and often they would tend to at least one other job. They were quarrying for Dhustone (Dolerite), a very hard and challenging stone to abstract.

The Abdon Clee quarries closed in 1936, and the area had become almost industrial, with a concrete plant, tarmac plant in Ditton Priors, plus a small railway to move the stone - and the quarries. If the wind was coming down over the hill you could hear the stone crusher at the top crunching away, even down in Cleehillmarker village.

After the quarries closed, a lot of the quarrymen went to work at the Cockshutford quarries on the other side of Brown Clee. But the dhustone there wasn't as good quality and durable as over the Abdon side and that quarry failed to last long. Many of the men returned and worked at the naval ammunition depot set up at Ditton Priors at the start of the war. The quarries totally finished in the 1930s and 40s.

But whilst the radar facilities of the Clee Hillsmarker protect aircraft, both hills were once a hazard to aircraft, and a memorial commemorates the 23 Allied and German airmen killed here when their planes crashed into Brown Clee during World War II. The first aircraft to crash into Brown Clee was a Germanmarker Junkers 88, on 1 April 1941. Two Wellington Bombers, a Hawker Typhoon and at least two Avro Ansons also crashed here. It is now thought that there were more wartime crashes on Brown Clee than any other hill in Britainmarker. The engine and other parts of one of the Wellington Bombers are said to rest on the bottom of Boyne Water, Brown Clee.

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