Britain's Top 10 Hill Forts Jan 14, 2014 19:19:17 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Jan 14, 2014 19:19:17 GMT -5
Top Ten Iron Age Hill Forts In Britain
A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage.
The fortification usually follows the contours of a hill, consisting of one or more lines of earthworks, with stockades or defensive walls, and external ditches. Hill forts developed in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, roughly the start of the first millennium BC, and were in use by the ancient Britons until the Roman conquest. There are around 3,300 structures that can be classed as hillforts or similar “defended enclosures” within Britain, all worthy of considering. The following list represents ten of the most impressive examples.
1. Maiden Castle (Dorset). Maiden Castle (above) is an Iron Age hill fort 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south west of Dorchester. The name Maiden Castle may be a modern construction meaning that the hill fort looks impregnable, or it could derive from the British Celtic mai-dun, meaning a “great hill.”
The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the site consists of a Neolithic causeway enclosure and bank barrow. Around 1800 BC, during the Bronze Age, the site was used for growing crops before being abandoned. Maiden Castle itself was built around 600 BC; the early phase was a simple and unremarkable site, similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering 6.4 hectares (16 acres). Around 450 BC, it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was almost tripled in size to 19 ha (47 acres), making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions, the largest in Europe
After the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century AD, Maiden Castle appears to have been abandoned, although the Romans may have had a military presence on the site. In the late 4th century AD, a temple and ancillary buildings were constructed. In the 6th century AD, the hill top was entirely abandoned and used only for agriculture during the medieval period.
2. Old Oswestr (Shropshire). Old Oswestry is one of Britain’s most spectacular and impressive early Iron Age hill forts in the Welsh Marches near Oswestry in north west Shropshire. It remains one of the best preserved hill forts in the UK, according to English Heritage. Built on lower ground, it is also one of the most accessible, with stunning panoramic views across North Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.
Designated a scheduled monument (number 27556) in 1997, it is now in the guardianship of English Heritage. After the Hill Fort was abandoned, it was incorporated into Wat’s Dyke, where two sections of this are adjacent to the fort. It was occupied between the sixth century BC, probably by the Cornovii tribe or the Ordivice tribe. (cont.)
Source: HeritageDaily, January 2014.