The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Anstiebury Hillfort



Like its companion Iron Age enclosure at Holmbury, some three miles to the approx west, Anstiebury is a promontory fort, the landscape falling sharply away to the south rendering additional artifical defences all but superfluous at that point. That, however, may well be the sole similarity..... Anstiebury is thickly cloaked with woodland to the point of 'Howard Hughes' style reclusiveness, just the occasional local to be seen exercising his/her dog within its environs, whilst Holmbury is the focus of a multitude of weekend walkers and so-called 'mountain-bikers' racing along tracks between its ramparts. Poor Holmbury. In fact there is no public access to Anstiebury, as implied in jimit's post [by the way, thanks to jimit for the prompt to visit this wonderful site]. However I am emboldened (amongst other things... ahem) by a beautiful smile from a rather attractive local emerging - with pooch - from what Dyer suggests is the enclosure's original entrance to the approx north-east... that is on to Anstie Lane. Another encounter - with a very polite and friendly youth, restraining a not so friendly, not to mention barking (ha!) Alsatian - would suggest unofficial visits by courteous TMA-ers (is there any other kind?) are tolerated? But don't hold me to that since, hey, it could have just been the devastating Gladman charm. C'mon, give me a break. It is at least possible. Isn't it?

Heading anti-clockwise it is immediately apparent that the 'Howard Hughes' analogy is perhaps not that far off the mark; the ancient fortress, although severely overgrown, remains substantial and sophisticated within its woodland hideout .... tri-vallate except, as previously noted, to the south, where only the fore-runners of Hardrada's beserkers would've attempted an assault. Yeah, I (foolishly) tested the slope myself... you would have to be a nut. The most pronounced section of the defences is currently at the approx north-west, where the banks are more or less shorn of vegetation, if not tree cover. This happy state of affairs allows the intermittent sunlight to stream through the canopy directly onto the leaf strewn ramparts. The variation of colour upon this 'canvas' envokes thoughts/feelings I only wish I was capable of relating with words. I therefore switch to film... sorry, digital image. Perhaps these suggest something, perhaps a hint of some repressed folk memory of life in the ancient, virgin forest which apparently once covered this planet? Legends of Herne, The Green Man and the like. Jeez, I can see where they came from, and that's a fact.

Dyer reckons that excavation suggests Anstiebury may have been assaulted and destroyed before it was even completed, judging by the discovery of much slingshot and a destroyed inner rampart face. If this is true, the contrast between the catastrophic violence and hatred of that day and today's peaceful, ethereal vibe is total.
29th August 2011ce
Edited 30th August 2011ce

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