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.
One of the bank and ditch bits.
A view of the gorgeous Dorset countryside from the top of the defensive bank.
An idea of the complexity of the defences. Modern fence included at no extra change.
And looking back the other way.
Just for box_of_sorrows, some of the locals in the ruins of a Romano-British temple.
The sheep and I were not alone.
The old and the new. A tumulus in the foreground and some horrid looking new suburb of Dorchester in the distance.
The tumulus from ground level.