|On a really bizarre day for the weather, 25C+ in April, I visited this site for the first time for at least 15 years. Slightly put off by all the notices in the car park warning of thieves. Walked up to the Trig Point by the entrance and was struck by the fact that, although it is the highest point in the immediate neighbourhood, if it was meant to dominate the crossing of the River Test it doesn't as it is too far away. Mind you the other hills nearer the river are more conical in shape and were probably too small to support a hill town of any size.
The earthworks on the SE side outside the main ramparts are very confusing and it's difficult to see, to my untrained eye, how they could have been cattle enclosures.
Inside the E. entrance, which is a bit "managed" with a wooden walkway, I was struck by the difference from my last visit. The inner bank and much of the interior used to be quite thickly wooded, now apart from a small group of cherries and an isolated tree the centre and inner bank are mostly empty. The trees were felled as they were diseased although the ones on the perimeter seem to be fine. The clearance did, of course, make the extensive excavations possible.
Although the site is on high downland and is managed grazed, the flora has yet to completely recover and compared to Woolbury it is a bit of a desert. The clumps of brambles on the banks seen to have been cleared by flame throwers, unfortunately this has also killed the grass holding the topsoil and there was much evidence of slippage of the surface. There was more erosion on the tops of the banks caused by walkers. What does one do? I am as guilty as most but do you keep to the worn bits or do you tread elsewhere and spread the problem?
It's still a pretty grand site though and it's easy to imagine the thousand or so people that lived here for about 500 years leading a mostly settled and prosperous existence.
Disabled: Long slope up from carpark on grass.
Posted by jimit
19th April 2003ce
Edited 8th December 2003ce