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Maiden Castle

Visited August 2013

Location Dorchester, Dorset
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby

Dorchester- 2 1/2 miles

Parking Yes
Facilities None
Map

 

 


 

 


Review

 

Of all the castles we have visited, this is absolutely the oldest. Approx. 4,000 years old, this Iron Age fort is one of the largest in Europe.  The amazing ramparts were dug to protect the site which was continuously inhabited until the roman times. There is evidence of even older use of the site, it was thought to have been cleared of trees 6,000 years ago and used as an area of production of flint weapons. In the early Iron Age the ramparts as we see them today were created to protect the community who lived there.

 


 

 


 

Although we tried our best with the pictures, it is difficult to capture the sheer vastness of the castle on camera, mainly because it is the size of 25 football pitches, so the best place to photograph it from would actually be up in a balloon (but our C4K budget won't stretch to that!)

 

The castle today is reached via a steep path from the car park. It is manageable for all walking-aged children, but I would not advise push chairs up on the summit! Once you reach the top the ground is grassed over, it is ok terrain for walking but uneven in some places and watch out for sheep droppings.  The sheep roam free on the hill top, so if you have a dog it needs to be on a lead.

 

 


 

 


 

 

The romans built a temple on the summit, the remains of which can still be seen. This is an area where the sheep seem to congregate, and as we posed for photos by the temple ruins we were gradually surrounded by our furry friends. A bit disconcerting at first, but after we moved on we noticed that they seemed to like scratching their fleece against the rough stones of the ruins, and we were disturbing them by being there!

 

The site has amazing views from the summit, and although August it was very windy at the top, especially when walking the path along the very top rampart. It did bring out the early hill fort dweller in us, as we played at re-enacting the final battle between the invading romans and the native inhabitants. As in so many other cases, the organised roman army overcame the natives, who defended the site by lobbing huge stones down on the invaders. But the defences which had protected them for many years were finally breached, and the site was all but abandoned.  Our mock battle was loud and fierce (although we did not throw any stones!), but no one was disturbed by our war cries as there was no one else around, or so we thought.  When we got back to the car park it was full and we could see lots of tiny -looking people at the top of the hill. The site is just so huge you just don't bump into anyone else!

 

Apart from the car park there are no facilities here at all, you will find it pretty much as ancient man left it.

 


 

 


 

More info:  English Heritage Maiden Castle

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