Abbotsbury Castle Hillfort, Dorset.
Abbotsbury Castle is a multivallate hillfort enclosing around 4.5 acres (just under 2 hectares). Roughly triangular in shape, the structure appears to display at least two phases of development – the initial single circuit of defences probably belongs to the Early Iron Age, with secondary defences probably dating to the Late Iron Age.(1)
Positioned on one of the highest points of the Dorset coast, it commands panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and coastline.
Forde-Johntson postulated that a collection of ‘hut sites’ in the eastern side of the enclosure could have been the permanent home of a ‘chieftain and his supporters’, with the rest of the enclosure offering the wider populace a place of security during times of stress.(2) While not outside the realms of possibility, there has yet to be any significant excavation work undertaken at the site to add weight to this claim, and excavations of hillforts elsewhere have consistently failed to discern indications of social heirachy from building layouts.These features (and possibly more) can been seen in the 2002 Google Earth tileset .
The ramparts in the western corner of Abbotsbury Castle hillfort have been cut through by a square enclosure which was thought to be a Roman signal tower. A limited excavation in 1975 found no evidence to support this suggestion.(3)
Other Items of Interest
An unamed barrow within the enclosure at SY 55608 86510
OS coordinates: SY 5558 8657. Nearest town/village: Abbotsbury. There’s a convenient car park at SY 55740 86408
RCHM 1952 West Dorset.
Forde-Johnston, J (1976). Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales. Liverpool University Press.
Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (J Beavis) 95, 1975.