A hillfort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages; some were used in the post-Roman period. The fortification follows the contours of a hill, consisting of one or more lines of earthworks, with stockades or defensive walls, external ditches. Hillforts developed in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age the start of the first millennium BC, were used in many Celtic areas of central and western Europe until the Roman conquest; the terms "hill fort", "hill-fort" and "hillfort" are all used in the archaeological literature. They all refer to an elevated site with one or more ramparts made of earth, stone and/or wood, with an external ditch. Many small early hillforts were abandoned, with the larger ones being redeveloped at a date; some hillforts contain houses. Similar but smaller and less defendable earthworks are found on the sides of hills; these may have been animal pens.
They are most common during periods: Urnfield culture and Atlantic Bronze Age Bronze Age Hallstatt culture late Bronze Age to early Iron Age La Tène culture late Iron AgePrehistoric Europe saw a growing population. It has been estimated that in about 5000 BC during the Neolithic between 2 million and 5 million lived in Europe. Outside Greece and Italy, which were more densely populated, the vast majority of settlements in the Iron Age were small, with no more than 50 inhabitants. Hillforts were the exception, were the home of up to 1,000 people. With the emergence of oppida in the Late Iron Age, settlements could reach as large as 10,000 inhabitants; as the population increased so did the complexity of prehistoric societies. Around 1100 BC hillforts in the following centuries spread through Europe, they served a range of purposes and were variously tribal centres, defended places, foci of ritual activity, places of production. During the Hallstatt C period, hillforts became the dominant settlement type in the west of Hungary.
Julius Caesar described the large late Iron Age hillforts he encountered during his campaigns in Gaul as oppida. By this time the larger ones had become more like cities than fortresses and many were assimilated as Roman towns. Hillforts were occupied by conquering armies, but on other occasions the forts were destroyed, the local people forcibly evicted, the forts left derelict. For example, Solsbury Hill was sacked and deserted during the Belgic invasions of southern Britain in the 1st century BC. Abandoned forts were sometimes reoccupied and refortified under renewed threat of foreign invasion, such as the Dukes' Wars in Lithuania, the successive invasions of Britain by Romans and Vikings. Excavations at hillforts in the first half of the 20th century focussed on the defenses, based on the assumption that hillforts were developed for military purposes; the exception to this trend began in the 1930s with a series of excavations undertaken by Mortimer Wheeler at Maiden Castle, Dorset. From 1960 onwards, archaeologists shifted their attention to the interior of hillforts, re-examining their function.
Post-processual archaeologists regard hillforts as symbols of wealth and power. Michael Avery has stated the traditional view of hillforts by saying, "The ultimate defensive weapon of European prehistory was the hillfort of the first millennium B. C.". Beyond the simple definition of hillfort, there is a wide variation in types and periods from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages. Here are some considerations of general appearance and topology, which can be assessed without archaeological excavation: Location Hilltop Contour: the classic hillfort. Examples: Brent Knoll, Mount Ipf. Inland Promontory: an inland defensive position on a ridge or spur with steep slopes on 2 or 3 sides, artificial ramparts on the level approaches. Example: Lambert's Castle. Interfluvial: a promontory above the confluence of two rivers, or in the bend of a meander. Examples: Kelheim, Miholjanec. Lowland: an inland location without special defensive advantages, but surrounded by artificial ramparts. Examples: Maiden Castle, Old Oswestry, Stonea Camp.
Sea Cliff: a semi-circular crescent of ramparts backing on to a straight sea cliff. Examples: Daw's Castle, Dinas Dinlle, Dún Aengus. Sea Promontory: a linear earthwork across a narrow neck of land leading to a peninsula with steep cliffs to the sea on three sides. Examples: Huelgoat. Sloping Enclosure or Hill-slope enclosure: smaller earthwork on sloping hillsides. Examples: Goosehill Camp, Plainsfield Camp, Trendle Ring. Area > 20 ha: large enclosures, too diffuse to defend used for domesticated animals. Example: Bindon Hill. 1–20 ha: defended areas large enough to support permanent tribal settlement. Example: Scratchbury Camp < 1 ha: small enclosures, more to be individual farmsteads or animal pens. Example: Trendle Ring. Ramparts and ditches Univallate: a single circuit of ramparts for enclosure and defence. Example: Solsbury Hill. Bivallate: a double circuit of defensive earthworks. Example: Battlesbury Camp. Multivallate: more than one layer of defensive earthworks, outer works might not be complet
Castle an Dinas, St Columb Major
Castle an Dinas is an Iron Age hillfort at the summit of Castle Downs near St Columb Major in Cornwall, UK and is considered one of the most important hillforts in the southwest of Britain. It dates from around the 3rd to 2nd century BCE and consists of three ditch and rampart concentric rings, 850 feet above sea level. During the early 1960s it was excavated by a team led by Dr Bernard Wailes of the University of Pennsylvania during two seasons of excavation. Traditionally, Castle an Dinas is the hunting lodge of King Arthur, from which he rode in the Tregoss Moor hunt. A stone near St Columb bears the four footprints of his horse made whilst hunting; the earliest written history was written by William of Worcester during his visit to Cornwall in 1478. He noted that legend says that the fort was the place where Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall and husband of King Arthur's mother, died. In March 1646, during the English Civil War, Sir Ralph Hopton's Royalist troops camped for two nights within the rings of the fort.
Here they held a Council of War where it was decided that they would surrender to the Parliamentarians. Only Hopton and Major-General Webb voted against. A few days Hopton surrendered at Tresillian Bridge near Truro. Ghost army An extraordinary event that took place at the site was recorded by Cornish historian Samuel Drew, a ghost army was seen in the sky above Castle an Dinas around the end of the 18th century: In 1867, Henry Jenner heard a story from an old man at Quoit, near Castle an Dinas, who had seen the ghosts of King Arthur's soldiers drilling there, remembered the glancing of the moonbeams on their muskets! Murder In 1904 a young woman, by the name Jessie Rickard, was murdered on the site by a jealous lover, he took his own life. Midsummer The Old Cornwall Society hold their traditional annual midsummer bonfires here on the highest point of the fort; this ceremony dates back to pre-Christian times to when Pagans would mark the Summer Solstice In 1671, a man called John Trehenban of St Columb Major, murdered two young girls and was sentenced to imprisonment in a cage on Castle an Dinas, starved to death.
The murder of the two young girls is recorded in the Parish Register.23 June 1671 Anne daughter of John Pollard of this Parish and Loveday Rosevear, daughter of Thomas Rosevear of St Enoder were barbarously murdered on the day before in the home of Captain Peter Pollard at the bridge by one John Trehenban the son of Humphrey and Cissily Trehenban of this Parish at about 11 O' clock in the forenoon upon a market day. Trehenban pretended to help in finding the murderer riding on horseback following the bloodhounds, his hat blew off and the dogs wouldn't leave it. He confessed; the lane where the bloodhounds picked up the scent is still known as'Tremmons lane'. He was placed in a cage; this rock is still to be seen and local people used to say that if you ran around this rock fifty times you would hear his chains rattle. Tremmon begged a passing woman for some food. All she had were a few tallow candles. According to local historian Marshel Arthur, local people used to refer to a no-gooder as'a right Tremmon'.
From 1916-57 it was the site of Cornwall's largest wolfram mine. Many of the old buildings and workings remain standing; the mine is the type locality for the mineral Russellite. Other minerals found here include: Arsenopyrite, Cacoxenite, Löllingite, Russellite Topaz Turquoise Castle Dore Prideaux Castle 2nd season of excavations in summer 1963 Brooks, Tony Castle-an-Dinas 1916–1957: Cornwall's premier tungsten mine with brief comparative histories of other wolfram mines in Cornwall & West Devon. St. Austell, Cornwall: Cornish Hillside Publications ISBN 1-900147-15-7 The Modern Antiquarian website Historic Cornwall website
Dodman Point near Mevagissey is the highest headland on the south Cornwall coast, measuring 374 feet. It is known by its earlier names of the Deadman and Deadman's Point, it hosts the remains of an Iron Age promontory fort, at its seaward end is a large granite cross, erected in 1896 to help protect shipping from this headland. It is mentioned in the shanty Spanish Ladies. To its north-east and in its lee is the small anchorage and sand beach of Gorran Haven. Below the large stone cross, there is a way down to the bottom of the small cliffs and there is some climbing there on the faces bouldering as it is scaled so there are no fixed anchor points
Poundbury Hill hill fort is the site of a Middle Bronze Age enclosure. It is rectangular and it is that it was designed to command views over the River Frome and the Frome valley to the north; the main entrance to the fort is on the eastern end. It overlooks the county town of Dorchester, England, it was first excavated in 1938. Details of the fort's serial development were discovered. In the 4th century BC, the banks were faced with timber and a deep V-shaped ditch was dug; the banks were enlarged and strengthened and a limestone revetment was added, in circa 50 BC. Just outside the fort was a large Romano-British cemetery; the majority of burials date to the late Roman era of the 4th century AD, although the cemetery was in use from the Neolithic times to the Middle Ages. The cemetery, located on the northeast side of the hill fort, was excavated during the 1970s; the northern and eastern sides of the hillfort's outer defences were damaged by the construction of the Roman aqueduct which supplied the settlement of Durnovaria with fresh water from a reservoir around 4.5 km away.
The aqueduct terrace, situated on the northeast-facing slope of the Frome valley, has a slight gradient, achieved by a winding route 9 km long. This aqueduct was a small closed channel with wooden sides, it had a wooden cover with a protective covering of soil and grass, to prevent contamination of the water, brought from a dam and lake by what is now Littlewood Farm in Frampton. The water was used for the new town of Dorchester and its public baths; the aqueduct was abandoned following the collapse of the reservoir dam in Frampton. The main Dorchester to Yeovil railway line was tunnelled beneath the hill fort, thereby minimising damage to the ramparts. Brunel wanted to put the tracks in a cutting through the site, but local outrage at the plan meant that the more expensive tunnel was chosen; the protest against the Poundbury cutting plan led to the formation of the Dorset archaeological society. Maiden Castle, Dorset Poundbury hillfort site page on The Megalithic Portal; the Roman aqueduct at Dorchester, Dorset
Rame Head or Ram Head is a coastal headland, southwest of the village of Rame in southeast Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is part of the larger Rame Peninsula; the natural site was used for a promontory fort in the Iron Age and the narrow neck of land was further excavated on the landward side with a central causeway, still visible. The eastern part retains traces of round house platforms, though damaged by wartime construction; the headland has a prominent chapel, dedicated to St Michael, as are many early Christian headland sites in the region, accessible by a steep footpath. The chapel was first licensed for Mass in 1397 and is on the site of a much earlier and ancient, hermitage, it remains as an intact shell and was lime-washed so that it stood out on the headland. Ordwulf, the owner of vast estates in the West Country and was the uncle of King Ethelred the Unready, gave Rame to Tavistock Abbey in 981, meaning the parish was technically in Devon until the modern period. Around the head, Dartmoor ponies are kept to graze.
This area is frequented by deer and cattle which can be viewed from the sea. Due to its exceptionally high and panoramic vantage point, there is a volunteer National Coastwatch Institution lookout on the top of the headland. Rame Head is a part of Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park, jointly owned and run by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council; the headland is prominent to fishermen leaving Plymouth through Plymouth Sound. It is the last piece of land they see leaving England, the first they see when returning home; the headland forms part of Rame Head & Whitsand Bay SSSI, noted for its geological as well as biological interest. The SSSI contains 2 species on the Red Data Book of rare and endangered plant species. Maker, Cornwall Village Holiday Information National Coastwatch Institution - Rame Head Rame Head Wildlife Old Photographs of Rame Headland The head on a 1946 map Protest Site for Rame Wind Turbines
Caesar's Camp, Bracknell Forest
Caesar's Camp is an Iron Age hill fort around 2400 years old. It is located just in Crowthorne civil parish to the south of Bracknell in the English county of Berkshire, it falls within the Windsor Forest and is well wooded, although parts of the fort have now been cleared of some trees. The area is managed by the Forestry Commission but owned by Crown Estate Commission, is open and accessible to the public; the hill fort covers an area of about 17.2 acres and is surrounded by a mile-long ditch, making it one of the largest in southern England. The origin of the name "Caesar's Camp" is unknown. However, the hill fort is close to the Roman road known as the Devil's Highway, this may have led Medieval mapmakers to attribute the structure to the Romans, but the person who named the road must not have known its Roman origin, so mistakenly attributed it to Satan. Caesar's Camp is thought to have been established around 500–300BC, it is the only hill fort of its type, identified in east Berkshire. Because the area had a thick bed of sandstone beneath the top layers of soil, it was not suitable for farming – the community at Caesar's Camp was therefore dependent on the produce of neighbouring settlements.
Caesar's Camp was therefore most used as an assembly point and a marketplace. Its huge outer walls and 1-mile-long dump rampart suggest that it was used as a safe haven in case of attack. Caesar's Camp appears to have fallen under the rule of Cunobelin, king of the Catuvellauni tribe in the first century AD from a coin discovered in the interior. Soon after, the Romans invaded England. A road from its south entrance was built, connecting it to the Devil's Highway. There is a small Roman settlement about halfway along this road, known as Wickham Bushes, which has yielded pottery and other Roman artifacts; the main Roman road connected Londinium with Calleva Atrebatum, the tribal capital of the Atrebates celtic tribe about 10 miles to the west in Hampshire. A redoubt 40 m across in the fort is thought to be part of a defence line built in 1792 in preparation for the Napoleonic Wars; the layout consists of a number of steep banks and ditches in the shape of an oak leaf, enclosing a large flat area of a settlement.
The main entrance is at its northern end and is well defended with multiple banks and a sinuous entrance road. The banks to the side of the entrance are steep, guiding any entrants along the way, it is north of the Roman road known as the Devil's Highway which connected Londinium to Calleva Atrebatum. It is within the Crowthorne Woods part of Swinley Forest crown plantation and is located off Nine Mile Ride 0.75 miles from the Look Out visitor centre. Much of the fort is covered by mature broadleaf and coniferous trees, although some of the spruce plantation on the southern part of the fort has been cleared, the ground reverted to heathland and scrub. On clear days, central Bracknell and Crowthorne, including Broadmoor hospital, are visible from its highest points; the camp falls within the Broadmoor to Bagshot Woods and Heaths Site of Special Scientific Interest, forms part of the northern edge of the SSI. The zone protects numerous rare birds such as the woodlark and nightjar, as well as its diverse insect life and fauna.
It is an hand-built complex. The camp has suffered significant erosion, both man-made. Efforts have been made by Bracknell Forest Council to restore some of the natural parts. A geophysical survey of 2 ha in the southern part of the fort was undertaken in 1995 before the restoration work, it found some evidence for sustained occupation and structures. The site was reoccupied between 29 August and 8 September 1978, when it became the location of the last of the Windsor Free Festivals in 1978, after the forced removal of those attempting to attend the People's Free Festival, in Windsor Great Park, by police. Thames Basin Heaths Bracknell Forest Council Caesar's Camp at the Digital Hillfort Project Caesars camp at The Modern Antiquarian Caesar's camp at The Megalithic Portal
Castle Crag is a hill in the North Western Fells of the English Lake District. It is the smallest hill included in Alfred Wainwright's influential Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, the only Wainwright below 1,000 feet. Wainwright accorded Castle Crag the status of a separate fell because it "is so magnificently independent, so ruggedly individual, so aggressively unashamed of its lack of inches, that less than justice would be done by relegating it to a paragraph in the High Spy chapter." Subsequent guidebooks have not always agreed: Castle Crag is one of only two Wainwrights not included in Bill Birkett's Complete Lakeland Fells. Watercolour artist Thomas Frederick Worrall painted a view of Castle Crag from Friar's Crag on the northern shore of Derwentwater. A postcard of the painting is available from St Kentigern's Church and St James's Church, both in Keswick The fell has an impressive appearance, a rugged height blocking the valley of Borrowdale, squeezed between Castle Crag and Grange Fell, its neighbour on the other side.
This narrow gorge known as the'Jaws of Borrowdale', is prominent in views from Keswick and Derwentwater. High Spy, the parent fell, forms part of the north-south ridge between Borrowdale and the Newlands Valley; the rough spur of Low Scawdel runs out due east from the summit, breaking steeply over Goat Crag and falling to Broadslack Gill. This small tributary of the River Derwent separates High Spy from Castle Crag; the wooded height of Castle Crag rises between Broadslack Gill and the Derwent, the two streams meeting to the north beneath the outlying knoll of Low Hows. It has steep faces on all sides except the south, where a low ridge runs out and swings west around the head of Broadslack Gill. A narrow col here provides the topographic link to High Spy; the Derwentwater fault runs along the valley of Broadslack Gill, the higher ground to the north west being composed of the Birker Fell Formation. These are subordinate sills. By contrast Castle Crag shows outcropping of the Eagle Crag Member, a mixture of siltstone, sandstone and tuff with frequent andesite sills.
The slopes of Castle Crag are extensively quarried with pits and levels on the northern and south eastern flanks. The summit has been extensively worked; the High Hows Quarry achieved fame as the home of Millican Dalton, the eccentric and self-styled "Professor of Adventure". The caves here formed his summer home from the 1920s until shortly before his death in 1947; the summit area is believed to have been an ancient hill fort, although the western section has been sliced away by quarrying. It can only be gained by means of a sloping crack to the south; the highest point is a rock outcrop about eight feet high and twelve feet across. Atop this is a well constructed circular cairn of slate. A memorial to Borrowdale men killed. There is a fine view down Skiddaw seen to good effect across the lake. Southwards Great Gable and the Scafells ring the head of the Derwent catchment, while near at hand- enhanced by the steepness of the slope- is a view of the woods and crags of mid Borrowdale. Castle Crag may be ascended from the villages of Grange in Borrowdale or Rosthwaite, can be combined with the lovely riverside walk along the River Derwent.
The Allerdale Ramble long distance walking route runs along the valley of Broadslack Gill, whilst the Cumbria Way crosses the eastern slopes of Castle Crag