|Maiden Castle Revisited.
It's almost 3 years since I was last at Maiden Castle. The last time I visited the site I was totally confused by the whole thing. So today the sun was shining and I thought I would have a run up Swaledale and give the place another coat of looking at hoping that during the intervening 3 years I may have become a little more knowledgeable and could look at the monument with 'new eyes'. I was wrong it's still a crazy place and I still haven't a clue what it's all about.
The top of my field notes says 'invisible'. Even though I knew where the site was, I scrambled up the unenclosed hillside almost missing it.
Huge amounts of time and effort were invested in creating this monument, thousands of man hours, think of Mayburgh then double it, I paced the inner rampart and it came to 400 paces exactly. Yet if you didn't know it was there you would never seen it either from above or below, WHY?
The only possible sign to indicate to anyone that there was something here is the large, eroded mound at the eastern end of the stone avenue. The mound is visible from the high ground above Grinton and may have been a marker for the monument.
There is another mound to the west of the monument which has a modern cairn on top of it, but the mound itself may be natural.
I've not too much to add to my original observations of the site.
There appears to be 2 large squarely set blocks at the junction between the avenue and the monument, these could possibly be seen as gateposts. I also found evidence of dry stone wall beneath the rubble of both the avenue and the ramparts. One of the circular structures in the southern rampart has a definite hut circle groove about it with evidence of at least 3 courses of stone walling.
Maiden Castle is a strange site. I get the feeling that if it was located in a more accessible part of the country then it would have been interpreted, reinterpreted, excavated, argued over and classed as a very important monument. I don't know whether the fact that it remains a little known, poorly understood monument is a good thing or a bad thing. What I would suggest is, if you're in the area pay it a visit. I guarantee it will impress you and confuse you in equal parts.
Posted by fitzcoraldo
6th May 2005ce
Edited 8th May 2005ce