Towering over Rugeley, Etching Hill stands proudly, just as it has for hundreds of years, overlooking the town and a central part of the community.
But, the historic site which lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is listed as one of Staffordshire’s RIGS (Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological sites).
Etching Hill has had many uses over the years and has not always been, the picturesque beauty spot it is today.
In it’s time, the hill, which was formed during the ice age, has been home to armed forces, visitors from across the region as well as a race track but there are many people who know little of the importance of the site.
Etching Hill stands 454 feet above sea level on the edge of Cannock Chase and is capped with an outcrop of rock covered on its lower slopes to the north, south and west with gorse, bracken and heather and on the east by fields.
When exactly horse racing began at Etching Hill is unclear however, what is known is that infamous poisoner Dr William Palmer was once a clerk at the site.
Foot races were being run on a course at Etching Hill as early as in the reign of King Charles II when noblemen and gentry employed especially fleet footed men as ‘footmen’ - men who ran before and after their masters coaches.
The course was also present from 1820- 1856 and ran along the foot of the hill, along what is Mount Road, down towards Chaseley House out over towards Shooting Butts Farm and back down to the Hill.
At the foot of Etching Hill, the old rifle range had its iron targets which were whitewashed and then painted with black paint.
And scientists from Birmingham University excavated the site over a period of two months in 1974 after the discovery of two skulls in a cave at Bowers Farm opposite the bottom of Etching Hill.
What they found was astonishing.
They discovered 267 flints, among them, scrapers for the preparation of game, many microliths which were used as the tips or barbs of arrows and a single serrated flint knife.
There was also evidence that the site had been used for knapping and tool manufacture.
The cave site turned out to possess the third largest late Mesolithic flint assemblage known in the county.
Today, Etching Hill is maintained by a local charity and is a popular attraction for residents of the town and visitors.