Bury Wood Camp, Iron Age Hillfort, Colerne - Feb 2009
Scheduled Monument: SM28993 : SMR Number: ST87SW203
Most of the hill forts in Wiltshire are set in green pastures with lots of sheep milling around.Bury Wood Camp has it's wildlife too, during the summer, it turns into a muddy mosquitoe and snake infested swamp, with lots of Gurka soilders running around on exercise. Most hillforts are tranquil places of quiet reflection with nothing more than the winds whistle for the background sound effect.
This one came with noise of small arms fire, mortars and the light buzz of a spotter plane.
Having explored the site from different angles, I would suggest that you come in via the north east end.
Nowadays there is a bus stop on the A420 Bristol Road and even a pull in large enough for a coach. Best to park up by the church in North Wraxell and walk through the village, and down to Bristol Road, via the bridleway. Walk down the track and when you get to the stable, take the right hand bridleway down the steep incline to the bottom of Doncombe Brook. A ruined but working stone bridge takes you over the brook and into a wooded area brimming with wildlife.
The most direct route up to the fort is by crossing the brook, before you reach the bridge (take your wellies) and march up the steep hill ahead of you. This will take you up to the original north western entrance. If you follow the bridle way, then you can cross the brook further on by another stone bridge, which will take you along the eastern flank of the hillfort. The paths are well used by dog walkers and horses, so expect mud.
The woods have some spectacular Oak and Beach trees, along with plantations of Firs. The recent storms had taken off some big branches and parts of the track were blocked in places, although nothing you couldn't get around.
Most of what we know about this promontory fort, and its enclosed 9 hectares, comes from the excavations made by Denis Grant-King in the 1960's.
Although the general history of the fort, beginning with its initial building, can be dated to about 350 BC, various Neolithic and Mesolithic flint tools were removed, indicating much earlier use. Rotary and saddle querns were also recovered, along with a possible axe polishing stone.
The fort is sub-triangular with entrances at the NW & E. The main rampart across the south-west side is bivallatc 4m wide and 1m deep and an outer bank up to 2m high and 3m wide. This contains an entrance which was blocked at a later stage in the iron age. This earthwork may have been a cross-ridge dyke before it was incorporated into the hillfort.
An entrance in the middle of the south western side is modern.
A single bank and ditch surmount the sleep, wooded north and east sides. A funnel-shaped entrance in the north-east corner has been, proved by excavation and had been destroyed by fire.
Partial excavation of the site in 1959-60 has showed that an earlier structure existed at the north east entrance, indicated by drystone revetments within the northern rampart. In a second stage the entrance was remodelled and widened.
There was another entrance on the north-west side where four staggered post holes were uncovered as well as a cylindrical cavity 0.66m deep, interpreted as a gate post hole.
The small rectangular earthwork inside the fort marked on some maps as a barrow, is also of iron age date.
Some time in the second century BC the fort came to an end, although why is unknown.
A very interesting site to explore if you can spend a day marching up the steep sides. I would recommend you do this one in the spring or autumn though, as the mosquitoes and thick vegetation can make the whole place seem like a jungle.
Posted by Chance
17th March 2009ce
Edited 17th March 2009ce