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Eggardon Hill



(12) Eggardon Camp, hill-fort (Plate 71), partly in Powerstock parish, occupies the summit of a hill 800 ft. high, 1½ m. N.E. of the church. The area is over 20 acres, or nearly 36 acres including the defences but excluding the outwork on the S.W.
The hill-fort has a comparatively level enclosure but the ground falls rapidly on the N.E., S., S.W. and W., though to the E. and N.W. it is nearly level. The defences, except on the E. and N.W., consist of three ramparts with two medial ditches; on the W., N.E. and E. sides there is an open area of varying width between the two outer lines. At the N.W. and E. ends, where the ground is practically level and the two entrances to the camp are situated, a different treatment is adopted. The former has an additional outer line of rampart, ditch and counterscarp bank, across the back of the ridge and merging into the main outer line of defence. As will be seen from the plan the entrances through these ramparts are so arranged as to traverse the defences diagonally. There are two entrances through the middle rampart; the central entrance has an inturn on the N. side but the ditch has been cut through in front of it, probably when the second entrance to the N. was formed. This entrance is approached by a sunk track along the edge of the ridge to the N.W. The outermost line is stopped short of this approach and is therefore presumably an addition to the plan, contemporary with the building or extension of the outermost rampart on both sides of the ridge.
At the E. end, the main rampart is higher than elsewhere and has an outer ditch and a slight counterscarp bank. The entrance through the outer line is in the S.E. angle and is flanked by inturned ramparts. Here also the entrances are made to traverse the defences diagonally, additional strength being obtained by the formation of two ramparts with a medial ditch across the enclosure between the two systems. The outer entrance was approached both from the ridge and also by a diagonal track up the S. escarpment of the hill; where this track approaches the entrance it is screened by a short length of outer bank and ditch. On the S. side of the fort an extensive landslip carried away the whole of the defences on the middle of this face; this was remedied by digging a wide ditch in the eastern part of the fallen material and reinstating the outer ditch and bank below it. Neither of these works, however, being at a lower level, make connection with the earlier defences. As part of the same work a further bank was thrown up at the foot of the hill and covering roughly the same lateral extent as the landslip. Through this bank the diagonal approach to the S.E. entrance turns outwards and southwards.
Although no reconstruction of the history of the site is possible without further excavation, evidence of a structural sequence has been noted both at the N.W. end and on the S.Side. In the case of the former, the alteration of the position of the outer entrance coincided with the addition of an outer enclosure. On the S. side, the rebuilding of much of the outer defences, due to the landslip, doubtless explains the presence of the unusual outer line of considerable strength in the valley below it. There is no visible evidence that the multiple defences were preceded by a simpler system.
Within the enclosure are two large mounds, probably barrows, that marked " A " on plan having a diameter of 42 ft. and a height of about 2 ft.; while mound "B" has a diameter of about 42 ft. and a height of 4½ ft. Both have been considerably damaged. There are also a number of small somewhat irregular mounds. Their dimensions are as follows:—(1) disturbed in centre, diam. 23 ft., height 9 in. (2) irregular oval 6 ft. by 5 ft., 6 in. high, possibly natural. (3) oval, diams. 6 5½ ft., height about 8 in. (4) roughly circular, 12 ft. diam., height about 9 in. (5) roughly circular, 10½ ft. diam., height about 9 in. (6) rectangular, 19½ ft. by 9 ft., height about 9 in. (7) rectangular, 45 ft. by 9 ft. and 1 ft. high, possibly a portion of a bank. There are also, where shown on plan, traces of banks, perhaps of former enclosures, but they are now somewhat fragmentary and it is impossible to say whether they are original. It is perhaps significant that, as far as can now be seen these banks do not appear to impinge on any trace of a pit.
The small octagonal enclosure, surrounded by a slight bank, some 50 yards from the S.W. rampart, is modern. It represents the site of a former coppice planted to serve as a sea-mark.
The whole floor of the main enclosure is pitted with shallow cup-like hollows in the turf about 4 to 5 yards in diam. Generally speaking, there is no trace of their having been arranged on any direct system beyond the fact that they appear to have been kept clear of the central trackway joining the two entrances. This observation must, however, be qualified by the fact that a modern trackway runs on this line.
During 1900 five of these hollows were excavated (Dr. Colley March, Proc. Soc. Ant.,XVIII, p. 258). They were pits varying in depth from 5 ft. 6 in. to 6 ft. 8 in. In them were found: a flint knife, flint saw, scrapers and numerous flakes, etc.
The ridge on which the camp stands narrows, until it ceases in a rapid fall about 600 yards N.W. of the camp. On the top of this ridge about ¼ mile from the outermost rampart of the camp and a few yards N.W. of the O.S. Trig. point is a slight sinking of about 5 yards diam. and 2½ ft. deep with slight encircling bank. About 20 yards W. of this is a rough transverse ditch across the top of the ridge which here is only about 23 yards in width, with an internal and external bank.

'Askerswell', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West (London, 1952), pp. 12-15. British History Online
Chance Posted by Chance
29th March 2016ce

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