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The Stiperstones is a very distinctive hill in the county of Shropshiremarker, Englandmarker. It is a quartzite ridge formed some 480 Million years ago. During the last Ice Age the summit stood out above the glaciers and was subject to constant freezing and thawing which shattered the quartzite into a mass of jumbled scree surrounding several residual rocky tors. At 536 metres above sea level it is the second highest hill in the county, surpassed only by Brown Clee Hillmarker (546 m). Stiperstones' five-mile (8 km) long summit ridge is crowned by several rugged, jagged outcrops of rock silouetted against the sky.

Geography

The Stiperstones is noted for its tors of quartzite. The principal ones are named as follows, from north-east to south-west:

  • Shepherd's Rock ( )
  • Devil's Chair ( )
  • Manstone Rock ( )
  • Cranberry Rock ( )
  • Nipstone Rock ( )
  • The Rock ( )


Manstone Rock is the highest of these at 536 metres, and is topped with a trig point. The Devil's Chair is the largest and best known.

The Stiperstones ridge is a good place to view the upland landscape of the Shropshire Hillsmarker, particularly the Long Mynd to the west, and also gives extensive views towards the North Shropshiremarker plain and the hills of Mid Walesmarker.

The small village of Stiperstones lies just under the ridge to the north-west; it has a pub called the Stiperstones Inn. Nearby are the villages of Snailbeachmarker, Minsterleymarker, Ratlinghopemarker and Pontesburymarker.

Wildlife and conservation

The Stiperstones is a National Nature Reserve and in the Shropshire Hillsmarker Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a haven for wildlife, with birds that are normally associated with upland areas present, including Red Grouse, Eurasian Curlew, Peregrine Falcon and the rare Ring Ouzel.

Recently, a project called Back to Purple has commenced, to clear some of the hill of remaining plantations of coniferous and wooded areas, restoring the land to heather based heath, seeing once again in season a glorious purple heather upland tract covering the summits around the tors and enhancing the views of the Stiperstones from the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Back to Purple is managed by a partnership of Natural England, Forest Enterprise and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Their work has so far seen removal of thousands of pine trees and conifers, including the whole Gatten Plantation (still shown on OSmarker maps) and the previously covered Nipstone Rock has emerged from hiding. Thousands of heather seedlings have been successfully planted to supplement natural regeneration.

To balance this out and complement it further work below summit level has also aimed at restoring grasslands, rich in herbs, hay meadows, wet flushes which produce bog cotton, Heath Bedstraw and the rarer Mountain Pansy and natural woodlands.

Cultural references

The Devil's Chair


The general area has a long history of lead mining, most notably during the Roman occupation of Britain. Several pigs of lead have been found nearby, and the tradition continued into Victorian times.

The area around the Stiperstones is rich in myth and folklore relating to the rocks of the Devil's Chair. According to one legend, the ghost of Wild Edric, a Saxon earl who held lands that were confiscated after 1066 and successfully defied the Normans, for a time at least, rides the hills whenever England is threatened by invasion. The Stiperstones feature in the literary works of Mary Webb and children's author Malcolm Saville and in a jazz work commissioned by Music at Leasowes Bank, written and performed by the Clark Tracey Quintet.

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