|Very little remains of ancient settlements on the Isle of Portland. And yet this large lump of rock sticking out into the English Channel must have seen plenty of ocupation before the Romans arrived.
The only real evidence still to be seen is at Culver Well, very near the southernmost part of the island at Portland Bill. This is supposed to date back nearly 7,000 years.
Evidence of the Bronze Age can be found in field names etc. Row barrow, Brans Barrow, Round Barrow and Kings Barrow are just some that can be found. Kings Barrow is now a nature reserve in a stone quarry behind The Verne prison. The barrow is said to have existed up until 1870.
The stone that has made Portland famous is possibly the main reason that very little remains on the island. As well as destroying barrows it is thought a stone circle was destroyed in 1847 when The Grove prison was built. The name of the prison could be a clue but it is also mentioned that it was known as the Druids Temple.
The Frolic was said to have been a standing stone near Easton. Again it was gone by the turn of the 20th century.
Another standing stone is thought to have stood near Southwell, giving its name to Long Stone Ope.
During the Iron Age chambers were cut down into the rock. These later became known as Dene Holes, or beehive chambers. They were conical in shape and up to 10ft deep. It is thought they were used to store grain. Several were discovered around King Barrow when quarrying started. I am not sure if any remain.
These are just some quick notes I took from a book on the history of the Island by Stuart Morris. I only had half a day to explore and with all the later industrial history around plus some fantastic coastline I did not have much chance to seek out anymore info. There is a museum on the island but it was closed in late Februrary.
Posted by Mr Hamhead
28th February 2006ce