June 14th, 2007

Wanaka tree

Maiden Castle, Dorset

On Sunday I went to Dorset. It's not a huge journey, as Dorset, sort of, butts up to the bottom right hand corner of Somerset, but it is a very different looking county for all that. I had never been to Maiden Castle before, even though I had driven past it quite a few times. 
Some background. Maiden Castle is the largest Iron Age hillfort in Europe. It is huge. It was first used (rather than built) around six thousand years ago and changed and developed over the next four thousand year into the great big system of banks, ditches and platforms that are there today. It boggles my mind to think that all the work done in converting a low hill into this incredible 'castle' was done by hand with simple tools, most likely antler picks and shoulderblade shovels. 
In 43AD, shortly after the Roman invasion of Britain, Maiden Castle was besieged by the invading armies and, after a particularly bloody battle, eventually captured. It was a major turning point in the invasion, and the history of Britain and the rest of the world may have been very different if the tribes defending the castle had managed to hold out and beat off the Romans. 
The site was used sporadically for a few centuries after but was never the local focal point it had been before the invasion. 
Here are some pictures.


This is a picture of a picture taken from the air (the picture, obviously, and not the picture of it; my feet were firmly on the ground!) to show the size and scale and intricacy of Maiden Castle. 

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A thought

A thought has just occurred to me. My father's name is John, my nephew's name is George. Perhaps I should get my mother or the cat to change their name to Ringo.
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Durdle Door, Dorset

From Maiden Castle I drove the short distance to the coast. I've already mentioned the fact that I didn't stay there long, and I know that a bright, sunny, Sunday in June was a foolish choice of time to go there, but I'm incredibly naive sometimes and I just didn't imagine that it would be as busy and unpleasant as it was. There were far too many people around for my liking. There was a time when that wouldn't have bothered me, but now it's a different story. I have tasted incredible places and been the only one doing so and that is a situation that it's difficult to roll back from. 

So, anyway, I drove through the horrid caravan park to the ridiculously priced car park. I wandered down to the cliff tops, gawped, went 'click' a few times, muttered a bit and then wandered along the coast path to get a sight of Lulworth Cove. Just one look at the car park in the distance and the number of people milling around me sent me ambling back to my car and away from the fleshpots of the Dorset coast. It is beautiful, though and I'm glad i went there, it's just a shame that half the population of Essex, by the sound of the accents, seemed to have the same idea. Next time I'll go during the week in winter. 



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