I had previously visited this iconic site a few years ago but then I was short of time and only had chance to explore a short section of the mightily impressive ramparts. This time would be different as it is a morning visit and I could take my time – allowing for the fact that Karen would be waiting for me sat in the car!
It is a 5 minute walk from the car park, up the path, and through an original entrance of the hillfort. You then come to the first of several information boards scattered around the site. This directs your attention to the surviving low bank of what is left of the long barrow. This would be very easy to miss if you weren’t specifically looking out for it.
The rain (thankfully) had eased today and I was able to walk around (in a clockwise direction) in comfort. Although the skies were a menacing grey there was little wind and the temperature was very mild for the time of year. There were only two other people visiting the site, one was walking her dog and the other looked like a student who was making notes and sketches as she walked around.
The ramparts are superb and must have looked amazing in their prime, topped with a huge wooden palisade. Even the mighty Roman army must have been (at least a bit) intimidated when confronting this hillfort - although we all know the eventual outcome! The hillfort dominates the surrounding countryside and as you walk around the defences there are good views to be had in every direction.
As I walked around I spotted 3 circular shapes in the grass, given away by a ring of darker grass. Were these the outlines of huts? They certainly looked to be about the right size. My next stop was the information board at the remains of the Roman temple – well worth a look.
I then stopped at the eastern entrance to the hillfort where I feel the defences are at their most impressive. (This is the section of the site I explored on my previous visit).
The two information boards (one broken) explain about the complex defences and the discovery of the pit of sling shots and mass grave found here. I was also able to spot what looked like the remains of a round barrow.
I continued my walk around the site until I ended up back where I started. Walking back down towards the car park the large barrow in the fields beyond looked particularly impressive. It took me just over an hour to complete the circular walk. There are worse ways to spend an hour of your life. When I got back to the car Karen had fallen asleep so I gave her a bit of a fright when I opened the car door!
This is a famous E.H. site but it has not been commercialised (like others) and you can happily wander about the hillfort pretty much wherever and whenever you want. I have visited many hillforts over the years but in terms of sheer scale and impressiveness there is nothing to compare with Maiden Castle.
This is one of those sites which is worth travelling a long way to see. If you get the chance to visit, do so. You won’t be disappointed.
Posted by CARL
17th October 2014ce