Out of control hunt damages hill fort and long barrow
The National Trust has written to the Portman Hunt amid claims its horses and hounds damaged Hambledon Hill, one of the finest examples of an iron age hill fort in Dorset. It is claimed the hunt left the recognised bridleway and came across the hill during a half term hunt last month... continues...
[visited 27/12/05] After 20 mins eating my lunch and warming up in the car after a visit to Hod Hill, I set off for Hambledon Hill. A neolithic enclosure, long barrow AND a hill fort? Its enough to make a megarak go weak at the knees. I parked at the carpark between hambledon and hod, which meant the view to the North was saved till last, delaying gratification is always for the best I find.
So I came to the long barrow marked on the OS map and the neolithic enclosure first, the barrow is denuded but still obvious to an observant seeker. As is the enclosure, split with a fence but still followable as a line of bumps in the grass. I'm surprised the enclosure isn't further forward tbh, there is a lot of hill to the North untouched. Eager for the view I hurried on, down and then back up to the fort entrance and onto a melange of weird banks. I think I picked out the fort from the medieval lynchets, but with a Maes Knollesque cross bank, I'm not convinced the fort itself went right to the end of the hill.
And what is with the large long barrow shaped top of the hill, just to the north of the cross bank? What possible defensive function did this fulfill? Is this related to the strip lynchets? Reading the notes here on TMA, this is actually a barrow? Did the farmers fill in the defenses at the North end of the hill?
Confusedly I struggled against the biting wind to the View. And what a View. I couldn't stand and stare for long as I wanted to leave the hill without losing bits of my face due to frostbite, but on a clear day you must be able to 20miles from up here. I'm coming back in the summer, because this is one of the best views for miles about and I love my Views.
Access is a mile or so from the carpark, up a fairly steep slope and through a few gates.
Charlie and I visited Hambledon & Hod Hill for the first time on saturday. We climbed Hod Hill first, trying our best to avoid the cows coming straight for us. It was a beautiful sunny day and on top of the hill the views were amazing as we walked around the top of the hill with nothing but the birdsong and butterflies to distract us.
Afterwards we made the steep climb up to Hambledon. The hill looks so impressive on the climb up to the top and once there the views are even more incredible than from Hod Hill. We saw a deer on the way up and horses running through fields. There is actually a small lay by by two houses at the bottom of the hill if you want to park as close as possible. If not the car park at Hod Hill is only a short walk away.
I visited this fantastic site a couple of summers ago - it's beautiful with all the chalk downland flowers. The views are pretty much 360 degrees. It's a pretty steep climb to the top and once we were up there we almost thought we'd get blown away by the wind. Hid in one of the flower-lined ditches while it rained, and then sat overlooking a field being rippled in all directions by the wind, very strange to watch.
Hallo there. What a fantastic photo! I am planning to travel the whole Ridgeway soon for the first time, and would be interested to know more about Hambledon Hill. How incredibly lucky to be living right next to it; how did you manage it - are you a millionaire, by any chance?!
I visited this site in early 99 and found it one of the most peaceful sites I've visited along with the hillfort is a neolithic camp and is sited on the Ridgeway.
I liked this place so much, in true Remington style, I bought a house that sits opposite with beautiful views of this enigmatic gargantuan.
So if ya passing drop me an e-mail and I'll meet ya there
If you like solitary hill-forts with fantastic views, this is the place. Visited Hambledon Hill the same day as Knowlton Henges whilst at University.
A sharpish climb leads you to a very big site, complete with long-barrow situated bang in the middle! I remember just sitting and watching the countryside spread out before me for hours as there was no-one else around.
An Early Neolithic causewayed enclosure on the summit of Hambledon Hill, of which one third survives as earthwork and the remainder has been ploughed flat. It is interpreted as the central focus of a large complex of Neolithic monuments which occupy spurs of the hill in addition to its central summit (the hillfort spur to the north, the Shroton spur to the east, the Stepleton spur to the south, and the Hanford spur to the west). The main enclosure is one of the largest causewayed enclosures in England (circa 9 hectares), and is divided from the radiating spurs by pairs of cross-dykes which may equate to the middle and outer circuits of other complex enclosures. In 1974-86 a major programme of excavation directed by Roger Mercer examined most major earthworks on the Hill. The ditch contained placed deposits of human skulls and other bones, plus considerable quantities of animal bones. Stone axes from a variety of sources, and pottery from mainly local sources were also present. The abundant cultural material retrieved from the site has provided information about the community, including conflict, feasting, the treatment of the human corpses, exchange, stock management and agriculture. The disposal of individual artefacts and remains reflect the diverse use of the monument. Use of the enclosures and the construction of its individual parts was episodic, spread over 300-400 years, and was not representative of a lasting settlement. The relationship with Cranborne Chase to the east is highlighted by the cessation of activity on the hill in the late fourth millennium at the same time that the Dorset cursus and other monuments were built in the Chase. Renewed activity on the hill in the late 3rd and early 2nd millennia preceded occupation in the mid to late 2nd millennium, which was followed by the construction of a hillfort on the northern spur from the early 1st millennium. Later Iron Age, Romano-British, and Saxon activity has also been recorded on the hill.
Its interesting to look back at my notes from years past on the ground, staring in a state of confusion at the earthworks. Turns out this hill was a massive neolithic complex. 2 definite, 1 probable and 1 maybe causewayed enclosures (1 central, then 1 on each spur) plus 3 causewayed cross banks sepearating the spurs from the central enclousre. Plus 2 long barrows. Then they abandoned it and headed North-West to build a gert large cursus.
Have a look at the link I've added for (many) further details.
During the Civil War many people from the surrounding areas were so fed up of their land, livestock and crops getting trashed by the Cavaliers and the Roundheads that they got together as the 'Clubmen' to oppose both. At one point they encamped on Hambledon Hill, about 3000 of them apparently. Also they'd been assembled at Badbury Rings. Unfortunately Cromwell was easily able to oust them, calling them rather patronisingly 'poor silly creatures'. At least they were standing up for what was important to them.
Here is an excerpt from a letter from 'your most humble servant' Oliver Cromwell, to Sir Thomas Fairfax (the commander in chief of the Parliamentarian army). It reminds you that Hambledon is not always quiet and windswept.
We marched on to Shaftesbury, where we heard a great body of [Clubmen] was drawn together about Hambledon Hill; - where indeed near two thousand were gathered. I sent 'up' a forlorn-hope of about fifty Horse; who coming very civilly to them, they fired upon them; and ours desiring some of them to come to me, were refused with disdain. They were drawn into one of the old Camps, upon a very high Hill: I sent one Mr. Lee to them, To certify the peaceableness of my intentions, and To desire them to peaceableness, and to submit to the Parliament. They refused and fired at us. I sent him a second time, To let them know, that if they would lay down their arms, no wrong should be done to them. They still (through the animation of their leaders, and especially two vile ministers) refused; I commanded your Captain-Lieutenant to draw up to them, to be in readiness to charge; and if, upon his falling-on, they would lay down arms, to accept them and spare them. When we came near, they refused this offer, and let fly at him; killed about two of his men, and at least four horses. The passage not being for above three a-breast, kept us out; whereupon Major Desbrow wheeled about; got in the rear of them, beat them from the work, and did some small execution upon them; - I believe killed not twelve of them, but cut very many, 'and put them all to flight.' We have taken about 300; many of which are poor silly creatures, whom if you please to let me send home, they promise to be very dutiful for time to come, and will be hanged before they come out again. The ringleaders which we have, I intend to bring to you...
It's interesting how he refers to the 'work' and 'passage', so the Clubmen were clearly using the prehistoric earthworks for defence.
From p174 of Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches: with elucidations By Thomas Carlyle, published 1845, online at Google books.
Another account of the same event, from 'Anglia Rediviva', by Joshua Sprigge (1647) says:
At the bottom of the hill we met a man with a musquet, and asked whither he was going; he said to the club-army; we asked what he meant to do; he asked what we had to do with that. Being required to lay down his arms, he said he would first lose his life, but was not so good as his word, for, although he cocked and presented his musquet, he was prevented, disarmed and wounded, but not killed. Then we marched up the hill, which had been an old Romane work, deeply trenched. The lieutenant-general sent before a lieutenant with a party of horse to require an account of their meeting. He was answered with half-a-dozen shot, and could get no other answer...
... the club-men shot from the bank of the old work, and kept the passage with musquets and other weapons, which was no broader than for three horse to march abreast. Upon this attempt we lost a man or two, had eight or nine wounded, six or seven horses killed. Upon this, Major Desborough, with the general's regiment, went round about a ledge of the hill and made a hard shift to climbe up and enter on their rear; which they no sooner discerned but after a short dispute they ran, and the passage formerly assaulted was opened, and all the clubmen dispersed and disarmed, some slain, many wounded; the rest slid and tumbled down that great steep hill to the hazard of their necks. There were brought away 400 of them to Shrawton, of which number 200 were wounded in this skirmish.
I think this writing brings to life the fight - and perhaps has echoes of previous fights that went on at the site?
This was a neolithic causewayed camp, later used in the iron age. From the pottery excavators have found they've assumed it was mostly used in the summer for short periods (no large storage vessels, only picnic cups and plates) - I can appreciate this as it was cold enough up there when I visited: I wouldn't have wanted to live up there all year round when the valleys look so inviting. To be serious, the huge ditches contained many bones and burials - the full uses of causewayed camps aren't (can't be?) known I suppose. There's also a longbarrow right on top of the hill: all these features would have taken a great deal of work to create.