|Membury Fort lies on flat ground, six miles north of Hungerford. To the east are the remains of R.A.F. Membury which was decommissioned in 1946. (see link below). The M4 motorway was constructed over the old runway and a motorway service area now lies on the old control tower.
Although Membury Fort is classified on the SMR, (No. SU37NW200), as an Iron-Age Hillfort, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Romano-British finds from the site indicate a long, continual history of occupation and agricultural use. The Roman road, Ermin Street, runs to the north and shadows the modern M4. This may indicate that the fort was still in use as an agricultural grain drying/storage site right through the Roman period.
Access is either from the north via the old Ermin Street, the Baydon road, or from the south via the lane that runs by Membury Lodge. The fort is part of the Membury Estate, which is now being converted into a stud farm. We parked by the Membury Lodge and walked through the main gate, following the public footpath around Membury house and through the well manicured parkland, stables and out buildings.
"Keep to the Footpath" and "Guard Dogs on the Loose" signs might put some people off, but all we saw was a Jack Russell. There were people enjoying the summer sun but they were the other side of the extensive walls. The footpath is well marked and leads to the southern side of the fort.
A farm track runs right across the fort and up to the north-east wooded sector known as Walls Copse.
This wood is in Berkshire, while the rest of the fort is in Wiltshire. To the left of this border is a sunken pond which may well be the reason the fort was built here in the first place. The pond had a "Majestic" vibe to it with ancient sessile oaks and service trees around its edge. There was another, smaller pond on the northern side and outside the fort. This was very overgrown but also seemed original.
We spent about two hours walking around and saw only 2 other walkers in the distance. The site had an undisturbed feel with much wildlife. The noise of the M4 didn't creep in until we reached the bridge over it. The banks were over grown but still very defined. I couldn't tell where the original entrances where, but the southern one may well have been original.
A nice site to wonder around on a summer's day. Very relaxed with loads of atmosphere and the possibility of picking up Neolithic flints on the surface when there are no standing crops.
Chance - June 2009
Posted by Chance
1st July 2009ce