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Maiden Castle, Dorchester

4.7
#2 of 6 in Historic Sites in Dorchester
Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort south west of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. Hill forts were fortified hill-top settlements constructed across Britain during the Iron Age. The name Maiden Castle may be a modern construction meaning that the hill fort looks impregnable, or it could derive from the British Celtic mai-dun, meaning a "great hill."The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the site consists of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and bank barrow. In about 1800 BC, during the Bronze Age, the site was used for growing crops before being abandoned. Maiden Castle itself was built in about 600 BC; the early phase was a simple and unremarkable site, similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering. Around 450 BC it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was nearly tripled in size to 19ha, making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions the largest in Europe. At the same time, Maiden Castle's defences were made more complex with the addition of further ramparts and ditches. Around 100 BC habitation at the hill fort went into decline and became focused at the eastern end of the site. It was occupied until at least the Roman period, by which time it was in the territory of the Durotriges, a Celtic tribe.
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Maiden Castle Reviews
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  • August 20, 2017
    I have wanted to visit Maiden Castle for quite some years and finally made it a few weeks ago. Huge site which can easily take an hour or so to walk around. We visited when the sun was shining and a w...  more »
  • August 16, 2017
    This us Europe's largest Iron Age hill fort but the original enclosure was started in c4000BC. The views are excellent and it is clear why hill tops like this were chosen as defensive positions. Well ...  more »
  • August 15, 2017
    Maiden Castle is a huge Iron Age fort which has to be seen to be believed. For a structure to be still so untouched is remarkable. Take plenty of water and a snack as there is no shop or facilities wh...  more »

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