“Little Doward is a really old and special site, not only with the fort overlooking the beautiful Wye Valley, but also with ancient woodland,” said Richard Brown, Woodland Trust site manager.
“It’s a bit of a battle to preserve the vegetation fort and we’ve moved on to herding a small herd of fluffy and friendly Dexter cows.”
The woodlands, part of the Upper Wye Gorge Site of Special Scientific Interest, contain several rare species of wildlife, including the endangered Cosnard’s web-winged beetle.
The hilltop was a stronghold of Iron Age chieftains and has been linked to the fifth-century warlord Vortigern, who is said to have fled here from invading Saxons.
In Victorian times, it was enclosed and converted into a deer park, and in the 1950s the Forestry Commission planted commercial coniferous species.
The site contains old and veteran trees.
The site still contains a significant number of old and veteran trees that provide deadwood for its rare species.
“This is a victory for the site. For nature and restoration, cows are ideal pastures on a wide range of species. They help spread seeds through your manure and gently move the soil but don’t destroy it,” Mr. Brown said.
“For the fort itself, they can prevent vegetation from engulfing it and the virtual fencing technology, through an app, helps us move the herd, actually moving the fence.
“The cows are also very friendly, so if people visit don’t panic, they may just want to come up to you and say hello!”
The technology, known as Nofence, was developed by a Norwegian company that says it can help prevent overgrazing.
A government-commissioned report last year concluded that virtual fencing had several potential welfare advantages over conventional electric fencing and might be better for grazing land.
It has previously been used on cows within Epping Forest, after grazing cattle were brought in for the first time since numbers fell during the BSE crisis.