The weather was again beautiful; the chance of an early finish from work, four days rain forecast and booked in for DIY duties on the weekend. Time for a quick bit of ‘old stoning’ - while I can! I needed somewhere local to go and as I work in Newport it is only a short drive to the Roman stronghold of Caerleon. But it wasn’t the Roman remains I planned on visiting, rather the impressive Iron Age Hillfort of Lodge Wood.
Caerleon is a bit of a maze and operates a one-way system. Head past the Roman Museum and the Amphitheatre / car park. Continue past the post office then go left. Keep an eye out for Lodge Road and then Lodge Hill. At the top of the hill you will see a sign for Lodge Farm Church – you can park here. From the church there is a signposted footpath which leads to the hillfort, via a metal kissing gate.
As soon as you pass through the kissing gate and walk along the (in parts) muddy path you immediately become aware of the high bank on your right. This forms part of the outer defences.
The path continues and eventually leads you to the western entrance of the hillfort – and very impressive it is too!
Three sets of ditches/ramparts, getting progressively larger. When standing in the ditches they are way over head height. The inner rampart is at least 5m high, probably more in places. From here you can either follow a path which continues around the outer defences or you can enter the centre of the hillfort.
The whole site is overgrown with trees, bushes, nettles etc. I am sure that if the site was cleared it would afford extensive views over Caerleon and the surrounding countryside. As it is, due to the trees, views are extremely limited. When I last came here I was part of a small group who were tasked with helping to clear the site and using the cut branches to make shelters for small animals. The hillfort is now more overgrown than I remember it back then, which is a shame. The shelters are now long gone - judging by the number of fires I saw evidence of someone probably set fire to them! Speaking of which, several trees had been set alight in the centre of their trunks. Fortunately most had survived although at least one had come crashing down as a result. What is wrong with these people? Why do they do it? Haven’t they got anything better to do? I like trees and there are many large (and presumably old) specimens here. There are a couple of superb oaks to see.
Despite this, I sat and contemplated. The sun was filtering through the trees; the gentle breeze was swaying the last of the bluebells. Birdsong was all around. Several squirrels and blackbirds were scurrying through the leaves; a rabbit scampered along the path. All was well with the world. I sat and wondered what the inhabitants of the hillfort thought when they look down and saw the Roman army approach? What they feared when the mighty Legionary fortress was being built? How their lives would be forever changed by these unwelcome invaders?
It was now time to head home to pick the children up from school. I certainly felt a lot more relaxed following my visit to this pretty place. If you happen to be in Caerleon to visit the Roman remains and museum please make the effort to visit the hillfort. It is only a short drive and well worth the effort. This is one of the easiest to access hillforts you are ever likely to visit.
‘This is a great Iron Age hillfort crowning a hill overlooking the Roman legionary settlement of Caerleon. It encloses an area of some 2.2ha, roughly 280m by 50-100m, and is defined by three lines of massive ramparts and ditches with entrances to the west and east. There is a smaller enclosure at the western end.
Excavation in 2000 indicated that the hillfort was established in the fifth century BC and that it continued in-use, with periods of abandonment and modification, into the later Roman period in the fourth century AD’.
Posted by CARL
22nd May 2014ce