Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle ramparts

Maiden Castle lies just south of Dorchester and is one of the largest iron age hillforts in Europe, the hill top is about the area of 50 football pitches! It has been inhabited for about 6000 years since the Neolithic. It is a site that has grown over the centuries, in the Neolithic it was little more than a clearing with two segmented ditches taking advantage of the natural surroundings. It is thought that this was sparsely populated and may have been used for flint axe production. Later, in the Iron Age the fort was greatly enlarged to more than twice it’s size, many more ramparts were built, and heightened. These too were extended and entry gates were added, for the time it was one of the bigger communities in the south. The fort was still occupied when the Romans arrived in AD43, and it is thought that some of the remains discovered might be war graves from that time. By the 4th century it had largely fell out of use, and the Romans established Durnovaria (Dorchester) just to the north. Eventually the Romans built a temple on the abandoned site, something that was quite popular, temples for pagan gods on previously used sites.

The suburbs of Dorchester visible from the ramparts.
The Roman Temple from the 4th century.

There is a free car park to the north of the site which I took advantage of – it’s a bit of a hike up to the site, but a clockwise walk around the ramparts, gives very good views, and is fairly flat, once you’re up there! I made these photographs on Kodak Portra 160.

Maiden Castle ramparts
Earth Works
Looking west

While having a search around the net I came across this illustration that gives a useful oversight.

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