Sunday, 12 September 2010

Iron Age hill forts

As you may have worked out I've been in Dorset recently and have got to visit a couple of Iron Age hillforts recently.

The first was Blackbury(sic) Camp on the outskirts of Beer.

The ramparts are still relatively high, showing an unusual entrance feature. The fort occupies the end of a large ridge at some 185 metres (607 ft) above sea level.

It was defended by a single bank and ditch, forming a roughly D-shaped enclosure.

A triangular barbican was added to the south but was never completed.

The fort was probably occupied in the second and first centuries BC by a cattle-farming community.

The second one, that I got to see on my 44th birthday, was Maiden Castle in Dorset, the best preserved Iron Age fort in the UK.

Originally built during the Bronze Age it was remodelled to finally posses a very complicated east and west gateway arrangment.

The defensive ramparts, and their steepness, also need to be seen to be believed.
The site also boasts a small 4th century Romano-British temple, constructed long after to site was abandoned. Based on a plaque discovered during its excavation the dedication was to Minerva.
Finally, to the north east, you can see a large Bronze Age round barrow ("bell barrow" form).