, The reason for why British Iron Age peoples built hillforts is still under dispute. Among the largest and most complex of Iron Age hillforts in Europe, Maiden Castle’s huge multiple ramparts enclose an area the size of 50 football pitches. 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. The ditch and banks are still prominent and well preserved, with curving banks defending the entrance at the southern end of the site. , Northern Britain had never been conquered by the Roman Empire, and so the Iron Age proceeded directly into the Early Medieval without imperialist intervention. Maiden Castle in Dorset is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts in Europe - the size of 50 football pitches. This had some bearing on the nature of hill forts in this period. Two coins, a sestertius of Antoninus Pius (AD 86-161) and another of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180), were dug up in or near the Iron Age hill-fort, the exact site being unknown. I believe that the bulk of the evidence for warfare in the archaeological record [which included hillforts] is created as a deterrent, or to symbolise the nature of the conflict rather than actually the physical act. New research published today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology describes a bizarre 66 million-year-old mammal that provides profound new insights into the evolutionary history of mammals from the southern supercontinent Gondwana - recognized today as Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent, and the Arabian Peninsula. Roman coin finds and the medieval pottery indicates settlement activity on or near the hillfort after its use in the Iron Age. These earthworks protected a settlement containing round houses, granaries, stores and workshops. Promontory forts are typically defined by "...an area to which the approach is limited, to a greater or lesser extent, by natural features such as cliffs, very steep slopes, rivers etc. Hoard of currency bars found within camp. Eggardon Hill is an iron-age hillfort which, arguably, has one of the finest views of any hill-fort in the county. It is the largest hill fort in Sussex, the second largest in England and one of the largest in Britain and Europe overall, covering some 60 acres (24 hectares). It is likely that woollen products and grain were traded in exchange for these. Some of the largest hill forts had an areas of more than 30 acres within their defensive walls. In the 6th century AD the hill top was entirely abandoned and was used only for agriculture during the medieval period. " It has been suggested that only the innermost rampart would be manned with the other ones serving more to make space and breakup charges. Archaeologist Leslie Alcock noted that a fort-building hiatus in the early centuries [CE] was followed by a new wave of construction—beginning in the third century, gathering momentum in the fifth, and perhaps extending through to the eighth. Hill forts were built on hilltops and surrounded by huge banks (mounds) of soil and ditches. Header Image: Maiden Castle – Image Credit _Andrew. Carl Wark walls. In the 1st century the Romans recorded the Votadini as a British tribe in the area, and Traprain Law is generally thought to have been one of their major settlements; named “Curia” by Ptolomy. There is a substantial hill fort on the summit with multiple defensive ramparts. The private estates of the Royal Family are the privately owned assets, not to be confused with the Crown Estates which belong to the British monarch as a corporation sole or "the sovereign's public estate". We can still see evidence of some of them today. Only faint earthworks can now be seen, along with a monument which marks the site of the fort. The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity.It was preceded by the Bronze Age and the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic).The concept has been mostly applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy, also to other parts of the Old World. It is one of the best preserved and most densely occupied hillforts in Britain, its stone ramparts surviving in places to near full height and enclosing over 150 visible stone houses. Life was short and harsh in the Iron Age. Traprain Law is a hill about 221m (724 feet) in elevation, located 6 km (3.7 mi) east of Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland. 6 Iron Age pottery from the 1906 excavations dates to Marshall’s phases 1-2 of the Iron Age. The ditches are said to be as deep as three metres and were filled with loosened chalk and covered with timber palisades. The ramparts follow the kidney-shaped contours of the hill and enclose nearly 25 acres. 10 … 2. While the most famous ones (like Ingleborough, Castle Bank an… and 600 B.C., depending on the region, and followed the Stone Age and Bronze Age. Type Type: Castle/Fort. ... 110km from Fort William. Built in the 6th century BC, the fort was in use for almost 500 years, during a period when the number of hill forts in Wessex greatly increased. “The theory of the time was that during the iron age Britain was invaded from the continent and hill forts were constructed as a response. Wrong. During the early Iron Age (ca 600-450 BC), several hill forts in central Europe represented the residences of a select elite. Usually formed of huge earthen banks and ditches, hillforts come in all shapes and sizes. The interior of the large hillfort is now mainly level, but trial excavation has demonstrated the survival of buried archaeological features relating to the occupation of the hill in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age. It is in part on open, quite flat heathland a little to the north of Matley Wood at Ordnance Survey ma… Varying from mere mounds to huge ramparts, these Dark Age fortresses dot the British landscape, vestiges of an age of warriors, sacrifice and ritual and murderous retribution. Traprain Law – Image Credit : Google Earth. It is situated just 2 miles south of Dorchester in Dorset. The site was excavated in the 1960s and over 483 hut platforms have since been identified within the hillfort complex. In the late 4th century AD, a temple and ancillary buildings were constructed. It has been traditionally assumed that hillforts were constructed for defensive purposes in the Iron Age. Hill Forts. Iron Age hill forts. ", Southern Britain in the Romano-British Iron Age, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hillforts_in_Britain&oldid=991955630, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 2 December 2020, at 18:29. Iron Age hill forts were once a common sight across Britain. ‘Maiden’ derives from the Celtic ‘Mai Dun’ which means ‘great hill’. The forts were surrounded by walls and ditches which helped warriors defend their people from enemy attacks. The site encloses 23.5 acres in all. The fort is thought to have been first constructed in the 2nd century BC. Registered Address: HeritageDaily, 41 Belsize Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, England. Stanwick Iron Age Hill Fort This note describes a partial perimeter walk of the largest hill fort in England. The well-preserved Iron Age hill fort dramatically crowns a steep-sided promontory of land reaching 210m (690 ft), with superb views. The hill is surrounded by four terraced earthwork banks and ditches and a stand of trees. The Iron Age hillforts have remained dominating features in the British landscape: as ethnologist J. Forde-Johnston noted, "Of all the earthworks that are such a notable feature of the landscape in England and Wales few are more prominent or more striking than the hillforts built during the centuries before the Roman conquest." In the Early Medieval period, which began in the fifth century CE, much of southern Britain (comprising much of the area that later became the nation-state of England), adopted a variant of Germanic culture from continental Europe, likely due to migration from that region.  Taking a similar stance, archaeologist Niall Sharples noted that "It is clear from [my] analysis of the sequence [of construction] at Maiden Castle, and by comparison with other sites, such as Danebury, that hillforts do not have a single function. Halfway along the southern side, where the defences cross the hill, is a gap about 35m wide representing a former entranceway. On a similar note, the English archaeologist J. C. D. Clarkr… Cissbury Ring is a hill fort on the South Downs, in the borough of Worthing, and about 5 kilometres (3 mi) from its town centre, in the English county of West Sussex. One of the few sites worth visiting is Sharpenhoe Clappers, near Luton. Some of these were apparently abandoned in the southern areas that were a part of Roman Britain, although at the same time, those areas of northern Britain that remained free from Roman occupation saw an increase in their construction. One school of thought, dominant amongst archaeologists in much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, holds that they were primarily defensive structures built in an era of intertribal warfare. These are often in locations with conspicuous traces of previous ritual monuments. Prehistoric sites are few and far between in Bedfordshire. Hill forts existed in Britain from the Bronze Age, but the majority of British hillforts date from the Iron Age, when they reached their heyday, between 700 BC and the Roman conquest of 43 AD. Revetted banks present "a vertical or near-vertical outer face to the enemy. Climb one of the biggest Iron Age hillforts in Europe! The finest and one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Europe. Eggardon Hill is best approached by foot on the promontory from the east, having come along the line of the Roman Road. Glacis banks on the other hand "are usually triangular in cross-section and at their simplest consist of a single dump of the material excavated from the ditch. The British Camp is composed of extensive earthworks that have been compared to a giant wedding cake. Maiden Castle is the largest Iron Age hill fort in Europe and covers an area of 47 acres. Photograph: Alamy. For instance, excavators working at the Dinas Powys hillfort in the Vale of Glamorgan, southern Wales, noted that although artefacts that were clearly Romano-British in nature were found at the site, they were not found in sufficient quantities to imply settlement, and that there was also no evidence of any construction going on during the first four centuries of the Common Era. Dunnideer. This Iron Age hill fort was built on a northern promontory of the Chiltern Hills, strategically overlooking the flat plains beneath. Poets and novelists such as A E Housman, John Moore and Fred Archer have written about it. Linear earthworks on the lower slopes formed parts of an Iron Age field-system during the occupation of the fort. It is now protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Discover an unusually designed Iron Age hill fort, containing a smaller central, possibly Neolithic, enclosure. In other cases, defensive positions were also reoccupied, for instance, on the defensive peninsula of Tintagel in Cornwall, a promontory fort known as Tintagel Castle was built in the Early Medieval period, with archaeologists believing that it acted as a "stronghold for the post-Roman kings of Dumnonia. The entrances became more complex to provide greater protection. It remains one of the best preserved hill forts in the UK, according to English Heritage. An earthwork, which is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs it has been suggested as a possible Iron Age Hill Fort but is more likely to be a Neolithic Enclosure with Iron Age Features within it. There are also the remains of an Iron Age fort on the site. A new study challenges the long-held view that the destruction of Central Asia's medieval river civilizations was a direct result of the Mongol invasion in the early 13th century AD. Excavations of the south west gate in 1968 and 1969 revealed evidence for one or more severe violent episodes, associated with weaponry and destruction by fire. They were home to many people, who would have lived in wooden houses with thatched roofs made out of straw. A community of 300 to 400 people lived here for more than 400 years. Iron Age Hillforts in Britain. The main two are contour and promontory forts, and the lesser two are hill-slope and plateau forts. ... so it was used as a fort long ago. Some are interpreted as being defensive, some for settlement, some for storing grain and others simply for showing off. Follow me on Twitter My Tweets. Bar Hill Fort, East Dunbartonshire Antonine Wall Fort Situated on the highest point of the Antonine Wall, the remains of Bar Hill include a bath house, granary, barracks and fort headquarters. " Another archaeologist to hold a similar viewpoint, Barry Cunliffe, a specialist in the Iron Age, believed that hillforts from this period were defensive settlements. During that time one of their main tasks may have been to protect livesto… Contour forts are those "...in which the defences cut off the upper portion of a hill from the ground below by following, more or less, the line of the contours encircling it." Both camps have a starting date in the late Bronze Age period, about 800 BC. Hillforts constructed by native Britons, or ‘Celts’, in the Iron Age before the coming of the Romans are thick on the ground in Wales. Three entrances served the fort, the south western with a 100m long hornwork surrounding it. Situated in the Cheviot hills on the Scottish borders, Woden Law rises to 422m (1384 feet) 1¼ miles (2 km) west of the English border and 9 miles (15 km) southeast of Jedburgh. Other, often smaller, New Forest enclosures have characteristics that are said to suggest an Iron Age date, although many are on relatively level ground rather than hill-tops and none have been reliably dated by excavation finds or, indeed, by any other means. Commenting on their distribution across southern Britain, Forde-Johnston stated that "roughly one-third of the Iron Age forts in England and Wales have multivallate defences, the remaining two-thirds being univallate. Havinden states that it was the site of vigorous resistance by the Durotriges and Dobunni to the second Augusta Legion under the command of Vespasian. Strip lynchets on eastern slopes. " The number of these such ramparts differs in Iron Age British hillforts; some, which are known as univallate, are single-rampart only, whilst others, known as multivallate, are multi-rampart forts. Archaeologists are starting a dig in a Cardiff suburb for what could be one of the most significant Iron Age hill forts in Wales. Christchurch Castle Ruins. Finds date from the Mesolithic and Bronze Age through to the Roman period which suggests the elevated position (69 metres above sea level) offered opportunistic commanding views of the local landscape. It can only be guessed at whether Roman legions put people to the sword, or if this was the result of intertribal warfare sometime before the Roman conquest. The ramparts were rebuilt and re-aligned many times in the following centuries. In the extreme southwest, however, enclosed settlements, albeit on a much smaller scale, continued to be constructed such as at Chysauster or the 'Rounds' found in Cornwall—presumably reflecting a lesser degree of Roman influence, which continued through into Sub-Roman Britain. " In this manner, hillforts would have in many respects been symbolically defensive rather than practically so, in a period when warfare was primarily about being threatening to your enemies rather than entering into open conflict with them. At Iron Age we believe in team service so please feel free to ask anyone for help at any time. The hill fort is overlooked by Sigwells, a rural plateau rich in archaeological remains. Cadbury Castle – Image Credit : Google Earth. The Iron Age was a period in human history that started between 1200 B.C. It stands on the summit of Cadbury Hill, a limestone hill situated on the southern edge of the Somerset Levels, with flat lowland to the north. A prominent landmark and ready-made arena, the hill has long been a place for public recreation. Explore one of Scotland’s best-preserved Iron Age hillforts, defended by elaborate ramparts and ditches. It is located 600m south east of Thornton Wood at Ettington in South Warwickshire. Ancient Egyptian mummies have many tales to tell, but unlocking their secrets without destroying delicate remains is challenging. Although some hill forts were built in the Bronze Age, the Iron Age saw a massive rise in hill fort construction. The ramparts belong to three phases of construction, the innermost rampart surrounds the remains of several timber round houses. " It was in this context, he believed, that hillforts were constructed as defensive positions. Tre'r Ceiri hillfort stands 450 metres above sea on an exposed peak of Yr Eifl on the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd. Also, out of all northern forts with radiometric dates, about half were either earlier forts that had been refurbished in the later period, or were newly constructed on virgin sites in the later period.. St Ann’s Hill Hillfort (Eldebury or Oldbury Hill) is a univallate hill fort enclosing around 12 acres that dates mostly to the middle Iron Age. Examples of these are hill forts such as Trencrom and cliff castles like Treryn Dinas at Treen near Porthcurno. Old Oswestry – Image Credit : Google Earth. A Digital Iron Age Environment – Recreating Uppsala Bit by Bit. Historic Forts in Maine. In about 1800 BC, during the Bronze Age, the site was used for growing crops before being abandoned.  On a similar note, archaeologists Sue Hamilton and John Manley, after investigating the forts in south-east England, noted that for this region, "It is noteworthy that most of the hillforts are univallate, and lack the in-depth perimeter elaboration which elsewhere has been ascribed a defensive role.". This Iron Age Hillfort is the largest in Renfrewshire and is thought to have been an oppidum or fortified dwelling site of the Celtic Damnonii tribe. At 857 ft above sea level, this is Surrey's fourth highest summit and is the site of an Iron Age Camp. 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. Iron Age beads were found in the centre of the site, near later Roman pottery. 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