Pottery shows that people were here in Neolithic and Bronze Age times, but the defences are probably Iron Age. Now the site is quite wooded and encloses a country house. In the summer it's quite busy with be-ice creamed visitors, but it's really quite nice for a stroll.
Lethbridge was positive he'd found a chalk hill figure of a goddess on the side of the slope here. His explorations are described in: The Wandlebury Giants, in Folklore, Vol. 67, No. 4. (Dec., 1956), pp. 193-203.
The following is taken from Britarch May/June 2010, its parts of a letter from Lethbridge to the editor of The Times 12/6/36, and he mentions a book written by Bishop Hall in the 18th century.
Its about the giant of course and definitely folklore but he seems to have existed.
Lethbridge also mentions another giant at Oxford.....
All very curious, considering its fairly flat round Cambridge and Oxford not many stones to chuck around.
"A Giant called All Paunch, who was of an incredible Height of Body, not like him whose Picture the Schollers of Cambridge goe to see at Hogmagog Hills, but rather like him that ought the two Aple Teeth which were digged out of a well in Cambridge, that were little less than a man's head. When I was a boy, about 1724, I remember my father or mother as it happened I went with one or other of them to Cambridge......always used to stop and show me and my brother and sisters the figure of the giant carved on the Turf; concerning whom there were then many traditions, now worn away. What became of the two said teeth I never heard".
Lethbridge goes on to write that there is an Elizabethan tradition of calling "Knight to Knight come forth" and a giant will come forth and fight you. And it is possible that at this time certain festivities were stopped i.e. fertility rites performed at this figure......
A LOCAL TRADITION OF THE GOG-MAGOG HILLS.—About five miles south-east of the town of Cambridge, and in the county of the same name, are situated the Gog-Magog Hills. They are an offshoot of a range of chalk hills, known as the East Anglian heights, which run through that part of the country. Many barrows are found in the locality, which are supposed to be of early British origin. Here, too, stood the camp of Vandlebury, or Wandlebury, likewise of British construction. Like other places that boast of remote antiquity, it has its legends and traditions.
One tradition, relative to the origin of these hills (which I heard from an elderly man living in the neighbourhood), may be worth recording in the pages of " N. & Q.," especially as I have never seen or heard of it being anywhere in print. It asserts that previous to the formation of these hills (Which are three in number), and near to the same spot, was a very large cave, which was inhabited by a giant and hia wife (a giantess) of extraordinary stature, whose names were Gog and Magog. They did not live very happily together, for scarcely a day passed by without a quarrel between them. On one occasion the giantess so outraged the giant, that he swore he would destroy her life. She instantly fled from the cave ; he quickly pursued her ; but she running faster than her husband, he could not overtake her. Gog, in his anger, stooped down, took up a handful of earth and threw at her ; it missed her, but where it fell it raised a hill, which is seen to the present day. Again the enraged giant threw earth at his wife, but again it missed her ; where it fell it was the cause of the second hill. Magog still kept up her pace; but again the giant, in his rage, threw more earth at his wife ; but this time it completely buried her alive, and where she fell is marked by the highest hill of the three. So runs, the local tradition respecting the origin of the
H. C. LOFTS.
From Notes and Queries, December 26th, 1874.
You'd imagine (looking at the map) that at least one of the hills with barrows on must be the hills referred to in the story - and of course one of them must be where Wandlebury is itself?
The story of the ghostly knight at Wandlebury is told by Gervase of Tilbury, who was born c1150.
"Osbert, a bold and powerful baron, visited a noble family in the vicinity of Wandelbury, in the bishopric of Ely. Among other stories related in the social circle of his friends, who, according to custom, amused each other by repeating ancient tales and traditions, he was informed, that if any knight, unattended, entered an adjacent plain by moonlight, and challenged an adversary to appear, he would be immediately encountered by a spirit in the form of a knight. Osbert resolved to make the experiment, and set out, attended by a single squire, whom he ordered to remain without the limits of the plain, which was surrounded by an ancient entrenchment. On repeating the challenge, he was instantly assailed by an adversary, whom he quickly unhorsed, and seized the reins of his steed. During this operation, his ghostly opponent sprung up, and, darting his spear, like a javelin, at Osbert, wounded him in the thigh. Osbert returned in triumph with the horse, which he committed to the care of his servants. The horse was of a sable colour, as well as his whole accoutrements, and apparently of great beauty and vigour. He remained with his keeper till cockcrowing, when, with eyes flashing fire, he reared, spurned the ground, and vanished. On disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he was wounded, and that one of his steel boots was full of blood. Gervase adds, that as long as he lived, the scar of his wound opened afresh on the anniversary of the eve on which he encountered the spirit."
Allegedly the hill fort was home to a tribe of ferrocious warriors called the Wandelii, (possible reference to the Vandals ? or barbarians), who were mysteriously massacred one night by the local Christians.
Legend tells of a Knight sleeping in the hill. He can be called on a night of the full moon by shouting "Knight, knight, come forth and fight" But it is not recommended, as when the knight awakes, it is for a fight to the death.
Legendary place of the Gog & Magog hill figures. Not many traces are visible now however, but when winter comes, outlines can become more visible.
Cambrige Archaeology trust have more details on Gog & Magog.
Gogmagog, The Buried Gods.
By TC Lethbridge
First published in 1957
It doesn't appear to have an ISBN, my copy was published in 1975 by Book Club Associates.
This is a fascinating book about this site and Lethbridge's discoveries there. He looks at other hill figures and explores the mythologies and beliefs surrounding them.