Visited today courtesy of a good friend who now lives in Devizes - part of a long awaited trip to Old Sarum. The sun was shining and at Old Sarum we really did feel like tourists, walking around the old castle ruins and ramparts a few paces in front of a French family.
Figsbury Ring, off the A30, was a very different experience. By now the morning mist had cleared and the afternoon was Warm and Sunny .. how wonderful in itself that was in the middle of March. The first thing I noticed, although owned by the National Trust and designated a SSSI, Figsbury Ring is adjacent to some heavy duty MOD land and there are 'Keep Out - Danger' notices all along the right hand side of the hill fort as you walk towards it.
An unusual hill fort, univallate with an inner circular ditch. I did a bit of reading after my visit and there is a view that this is the site of a late Neolithic henge which was later utilized as a hill fort. On a grassland chalk ridge it provides great views towards Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral - though both were shrouded in mist today.
I hate to post this but there's some skullduggery going down at Figsbury Ring... If you visit by car - Watch Out, there's thieves about! You should see a small notice as you enter the monument regarding windows being smashed and stuff being nicked. This happened to us. We were only there for 10 minutes as it was windy and nearly dark, but that's all it took. Very inconvenient and it spoilt a marverlous sunset at a magical place.
Be vigilant droogs!
PS. The track is still in an atrocious state too...
The track up here is atrocious: you really fear for your car's suspension. But there was a notice when I visited yesterday and it seems this month they are closing the track for repairs. So if you visit very soon, you'll probably have to walk up. but it's not far, just a bit steep.
I suppose it's unnecessary to repeat what everyone else has said about the inner ditch but I can't resist. This place does not feel like a fort. For one thing, where's the extra reinforcing outer bank round the entrance(s)? Where are the extra banks you'd expect on the flatter side? Why is it so awfully symmetrical feeling? And as for the inner ditch... well it's just not Normal is it, especially so far into the middle of the area, it's not like it's right next to the outer bank. Nah, this place is a bit weird. The banks felt like they were keeping out Prying Eyes, but you could still see the panoramic view from the central area. Or maybe the banks were for sitting on to view whatever was going on in the middle, who knows. I wouldn't buy anything about cattle enclosures either because the young ones here quite liked the challenge of the ditch.
There was a steady stream of visitors. I guess it's free and near Salisbury, I don't blame them but I was expecting to get the place to myself. Also you'll find a lot of sloes in the hedges around the car park, so if you visit you'll soon be able to gather some for your sloe gin. The rings themselves are an SSSI and there are lots of nice chalkland plants to check out.
I had read quite a lot about this site and re-read about it in Julian's book before leaving home. The site is easy to find (sign posted off the main road) and a very bumby lane takes you up to the equally bumby car park. Through the gate and a 20 minute stroll takes you rigt around the site. This is a strange place although the views are lovely - particularly on a warm summer's day. The site is surrounded by M.O.D. land with lots of barbed wire fences and warning signs. Don't be put off, go visit and enjoy the 'oddness' of the internal ditch and the wonderful views.
During 1978 and 1979 I was in the RAF based at the nearby camp at Winterbourne Gunner. Often I would walk up to Figsbury Rings at the weekend, or a summers evening and just sit on one of the branches of the tree there. The place was so tranquil that it was easy to just sit there and enjoy the peace and quiet by yourself.
My family and I were lucky enough to 'happen' across this place, after a very disappointing and busy trip to nearby Stonehenge...We sat a while, and had a lovely picnic in what I can only describe as one of the prettiest, albeit windiest (on that day 30/05/06) places in England. I took a lot of pictures, but have only posted the beautiful views. Enjoy! I have no idea what this place is, at the gate it tells of being built in 500BC, as a fort, although the whole write up was somewhat ambiguous, and didn't really divulge any information.
What an unusual place. Iron Age, but not a fort? Doesn't seem to fit in with anything. Gives a feeling more of the Neolithic.
Any road up, it's worth a visit. The photos don't do justice to the fantastic position, or the panorama, especially down to the Bourne Valley and Salisbury.
The central area is vast, the banks and ditches deep and high. A huge number of man-hours must've been required in its construction.
It remains an enigma, but I feel we should be looking to the Neolithic for answers. Oh, and a few more excavations too, please.
I only spotted this on the way home as I took a wrong turning. Parking in a layby I looked across and thought "hello, what's that?". Checking the map, the opportunity was too good to miss, and we carefully made our way up the deeply rutted track to the even more deeply rutted car park.
As others have said, the 'fort' is impressive. I was totally unprepared for the inner ditch, and knew right away that this was special in some way. It's a bit too 'jagged' for a proper henge ditch, to my mind, and looks a bit rough and ready.
Great views though, and a large and varied butterfly population.
We visited this site today after spending some time at Old Sarum. We agree that it is a rather strange hill fort and have our own suggestion. We think that it could originally have been a henge monument or small causewayed enclosure that was later re-used as a hill fort. this would explain the inner ditch. The outer ditch could have been created later to heighten the bank and improve entrance defences. We also noticed that one entrance frames a view of Old Sarum very well - any significance? who knows! A henge monument would have predated Old Sarum, which could disprove our theory, but maybe there was something else at that time at Old Sarum or maybe the entrance was changed when the hill fort was created? Hambledon Hill (in North Dorset) was originally a causewayed enclosure and so was Maiden Castle (Dorchester). Both of these were modified to form hill forts, so this would not be exceptional. Any more ideas anyone?????????
I visited this as a 'detour' on my way back from my friend's house in Newbury. You know, one of those diversions you take to fix it to make sure you can go past an ancient site on your way somewhere - i.e. a big detour.
I had been visiting an old friend, Dr Jaime Kaminski, a mad ex-archaeologist turned IT person, who finds gunshot from the Battle of Newbury (1643) each time he digs his garden. Jaime got 8 firsts out of nine exams for his Archaeology degree. Bugger. He was some sort of mad genius; just about the last person you'd expect to be a brain box. We had gone up Beacon Hill, a hill fort just outside Newbury, and then I continued on to Figsbury Ring.
When I visited Figsbury Ring it was easy to find, well signposted from the main road, but like other people have said on this website it is a VERY rough track up to the site, and you do get the feeling that something is wrong. Stick with it; after quite an uphill drive/walk you will come to a very large car park. I found Figsbury Ring to be one of the most amazing and intriguing places I have visited. Like others have said, there is something rum going on here. It's not much of a 'defensive stronghold' is it?! Especially after having just seen Beacon Hill and Ladle Hill, and going on to see the huge defences at Old Sarum. And why on earth would any community spend their precious time digging an extra ditch inside their own settlement? I smell a fish here. I am not an archaeologist or a researcher at English Heritage but I have been to a lot of hill forts and henge's and Figsbury Ring does not strike me to be obviously a hill fort.
I visited a few hill forts this summer, Figsbury was definitely the one which made the most impression on me, helped in part by the effect of the evening sun casting some rather nice shadows.
We only discovered it by chance, we were passing and noticed it was marked on the road map. At first the ominous MOD signs made me think we'd taken a wrong turning.
Glad we visited it, it has a great atmosphere.
Woah! This is something else. I've always seen this place on the map (just outside Salisbury, off the A30 to Andover), but never had chance to stop by. Coming back from the Blandford Forum festy with the kids, coated in mud, Monday couldn't have been a better time to go.
It's a little tricky to find, as a kamikaze has demolished the sign on the road, and the narrow track up the hill, past lots of private houses, doesn't give any clues. Stick with it, and the track turns into a largish carpark. Keep away from the scary MOD notices (they own the land all around) and saunter casually up to the treat in store.
Forget the photo in TMA. No camera can capture even a glimpse of this fantastic site. A huge ditch and bank sweeps around the top of the hill, giving magnificent views of Salisbury and all around, but what's this? An internal ditch! What's going on here?
The English Heritage sign says that this was for extra materials for the bank. Yeah right. Why not just dig another ditch on the outside ... better defences that way. No, there's something else going on here. Couldn't tell you what, but as soon as I abandoned the dog-walking circuit and headed into the inner-circle, something happened. Not sure what, but for a few moments, I was totally lost in the long grass, and all I could here was the birds hovering in the wind all around.
The kids stayed at the entrance, rolling eggs, whilst I drifted, but by the time I got back, they had gone a bit weird as well, and had made little nests for the eggs in the side of the bank.
An awesome site, that just sits, glimmering in the sun. Welcome aboard.
Prehistoric sites are often misattributed to the Romans (British history started with the Romans, didn't it???) - and Figsbury Ring is one of those sites. It has been known as Chlorus's Camp. Chlorus (the pale) was the nickname of Flavius Julius Constantius, who was sent over to sort out the unruly natives of Britain. It does seem rather an unlikely name for an ordinary person to think up, so I rather suspect it was the bright idea of some erudite middle-class antiquarian in the 18th or 19th century??
E. M. Forster first visited Figsbury Ring in September 1904. The site acts as an important site in his novel ' The Longest Journey', in which he calls it Cadbury Rings. He met a shepherd boy there who had a 'club foot' - he also incorporated this symbolically into the book.