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Maiden Castle
near Winterborne Monkton, Dorset
associated engineer
Anon
date  circa 3000 BC onwards
era  Pre-Roman  |  category  Earthwork/Fortifications  |  reference  SY669885
Maiden Castle is a huge complex of earthworks and fortifications of various periods sitting on a saddle in an east-west ridge, with a prominent knoll at each end. It is considered the finest and largest Iron Age hillfort in Europe.
The eastern knoll was the first part occupied, in around 3000 BC. Two concentric rings of steep-sided, flat-bottomed ditches were constructed at this time, though they not now visible.
Apart from a barrow mound, destroyed in antiquity, there is only a little further occupation evidence until 350 BC, when a rampart and ditch hillfort was built. This probably fell slowly into disrepair but 100 years later the fort was re-occupied and extended to encompass the western knoll, covering 19 hectares.
In 150 BC further ramparts were constructed, the inner rampart now measuring an enormous 15m vertically from crest to ditch.
At this time, barbican entrances were built to the east and west. Around 100 BC all the defences were remodelled to the same scale as the inner rampart. Complex entrances structures, the remains of which can still be seen, date from this time.
Maiden Castle's massive banks enclose an area equivalent to 50 football pitches and would have been home to about 200 families. It was defended principally with sling shots, using stones as ammunition.
The Romans, in the shape of Legio II Augusta, led by Vespasian, attacked the eastern gate in AD 44. After overcoming the defences, they tore down the fort's walls.
In the late 4th century AD a temple and adjoining house were built on the hilltop.
reference sources   PEWEH
Location

Maiden Castle