Did You Know?
Dorset is home to a number of Bronze and Iron Age Hill Forts, due to its high chalk hills which provided a perfect location for these defensive settlements for millennia. Maiden Castle, an English Heritage site, is one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Europe and it's right here on our doorstep on the outskirts of Dorchester.
It is believed to have been built around 600BC, when it covered just 16 acres. Around 450BC it was greatly expanded and nearly tripled in size to 47 acres adding more complex defences in the form of ramparts and ditches. However, by 100BC habitation at Maiden Castle had gone into decline and was occupied until the Roman period by the Celtic tribe, Durotiges.
The site went onto be used by a number of other civilisations following this; by the 1st century AD it played host to a Roman military presence, in the late 4th century AD Maiden Castle was the site for a temple and ancillary buildings but by the 6th century AD it was entirely abandoned and used only for agricultural purposes throughout the medieval period.
Since then Maiden Castle has provided the inspiration for a number of people, including the composer John Ireland and authors, Thomas Hardy and John Cowper Powys.
Added: 14th April 2020