From the village of Churchill take the A38 south. After about 1km you will see some houses on your left and a bridleway sign. You can access the Hillfort from here. Alternatively, continue south along the A38 and take the first turning on the left (east). There is a small passing place on this minor road where you can park. A public footpath is signposted which runs along the base of Dolebury Warren.
I wasn’t planning on visiting this site but as we were passing the place on the way home and, despite the grey skies, it was still dry, I thought to myself ‘Why not?’
In hindsight what I should have done is approached the hillfort from the bridleway to the west. However, (as I wasn’t planning on a visit) I hadn’t brought my notes with me so approached via the minor road to the south – big mistake!
Karen sat in the car while myself, Dafydd and Sophie too the muddy path down through the trees. Sophie complained bitterly about the ‘stink’ of the wild garlic! At the bottom of the valley we crossed a small stream thanks to a wooden bridge and continued along the path. After a bit, in my infinite wisdom, I decided it was time to head uphill to the hillfort. I was hoping to have encountered a path up to the site (not realising that the footpath to the hillfort runs east-west not north-south).
We came off the path, through some trees and over a barbed wire fence. We were then confronted by a very steep, very high hillside. I had severe doubts that I would be able to get up there with two children in tow – all three of us in wellies! I took the children by the hand and we very slowly made our way up. It took a long time to get to the top and had I known how difficult it was I would never have attempted coming this way. They certainly knew how to pick a place to build a hillfort!
It was with a great deal of relief that all three of us made it to the top without major incident. Once we recovered the first thing to strike you were the all-round views. You could see for miles in all directions – in the distance even Brean Down, Steep Holm and, through the mist, the South Wales coast – home!
This is a large hillfort. A herd of cows were happily munching away in the middle of the site. Although we didn’t have time to walk all the way around we did head for the highest point. This is near the eastern entrance where there are multiple banks and ditches some of which are above head height.
Near the highest point iare the remains of a stone structure. A short section of walling comprising of a couple of layers was visible. I have no idea of the age of this. Judging by the many outcrops of stones scattered around the site there was clearly no shortage of building material.
Before long it was time to head back to the car. It had taken much longer than expected to climb up the hill and Karen was sure to be getting restless.
We all managed to get back down the hill without too many problems; except for when Dafydd fell backwards with his legs up in the air – much to Sophie’s amusment.
On the way back up the muddy path Sophie fell face down in the mud. It was now Dafydd’s turn to have a laugh!
Dolebury Hillfort is well worth the effort of visiting when in the area.
The monument includes Dolebury Camp, a large univallate hillfort and associated and later earthworks, on Dolebury Warren, a carboniferous limestone ridge on the edge of the Mendip Hills, overlooking the Somerset Levels. The hillfort has a sloping sub-rectangular interior 487.5m east-west by 200m north-south. The eastern end of the fort is c.60m higher than the west and the interior contains at least four medieval pillow mounds aligned north-south and ranging from 50m to 150m in length and 0.5m high. Surrounding the enclosed area is a single rampart comprising an inner bank c.4m high and c.12m wide. This is bounded by a terrace c.5m wide on the south side of the fort where there is a scarp slope, and elsewhere by an outer ditch c.10m wide and c.1m deep with a counterscarp beyond. The main entrance to the fort is located at the western end. Additional earthworks, immediately beyond the western entrance, may be of later date and include a hollow way linking the entrance with Dolebury Bottom immediately to the west. To the north-east of the hillfort is a series of outworks visible as earthwork banks and depressions. The depressions are likely to represent rakes or quarries. Beyond them is a slight linear bank c.0.3m high and c.1m wide with an accompanying ditch c.1.2m wide and c.0.3m deep which runs north and then west for a total of c.550m. This earthwork is interpreted as an outwork of the hillfort, possibly unfinished, and encloses an area likely to contain evidence for contemporary settlement and land-use. Finds from the site demonstrate an extensive period of occupation, and include Palaeolithic flintwork, Bronze Age pottery, a bronze spearhead and Roman coins and pottery. In the post medieval period a series of pillow mounds were constructed within the fort representing a rabbit warren. It was this that gave Dolebury Warren its name.
Posted by CARL
29th May 2014ce