Clambering up on to the flat, plateau–like top of the fort, we were treated to the most amazing view across Oxfordshire, and what was clearly a very important Iron Age kingdom. To the south-west lay Churn Knob, easily picked out from the copses on the horizon by the bloody great cross erected next to the mound. (Blasted St. Birinus; but it does make a handy reference point – OK, I deserve a smack with a riding crop). Beyond Churn Knob lay the Blewbury Downs Tumuli, almost equidistant between Blewburton Hill and Perborough Castle. The same tribe, maybe, or a shared burial ground?
Looking round to the west, the land spread before us magnificently, leading out to the Vale of White Horse; then we were subjected to the unfortunate and grotesque Didcot Power Station, squatting like a homunculus on this realm; and in the north, Oxford. Further round, clearly and unmistakably, the twin copses of Wittenham Clumps and the Sinodun Hills rose up proudly from the flat fields. A kilometer from them stood the lonely tree on Brightwell Barrow. Looking north-east, we could see what I thought was Stokenchurch Tower, poking up from the edge of the Chilterns. Cloudhigh wondered if he could see Ivinghoe Beacon on the horizon.
And somehow, it suddenly all added up for me, this landscape. The different places flowed together across the land in one continuous line; a line the ancients knew; a line that continues throughout time, just as powerfully on a Sunday afternoon in the second millennium CE as in the first millennium BCE. Blimey, that’s 3,000 years!!!
...I rode south out of the stables in Blewbury and trotted alongside Blewburton Hill. This cracking hillfort covers the entire area of a 'freestanding hill', if you know what I mean, with phenomenal terracing all around it. It looks really 'sculpted'. You get a really good view of it as you drive along the A417 Wantage to Reading road, as many people do every day, but I bet they haven't a clue about this gloriously placed defensive village.
Realting to the naming of Blewbury village... Which came first? the hillfort? or the village? I suspect the village nearby was named after the iron age hillfort. The placename evidence suggests that the latter part of the placename of the village of Blewbury, the 'bury' is a derivative of 'burh' or 'byrig' in Anglo-saxon times. This means 'Hill fort'. Although not all placenames that end in 'bury' mean 'hillfort', many do relate to an ancient structure, be it, barrow or hill fort.
An early recording of the placename in the year 944 is 'Bleobyrig'. After the Normans came, it was recorded in the DB in 1086 as 'Blidberia'. What a difference a new ruler makes in terms of culture (and indeed, spelling!)
So then, the village was named after the iron age hillfort.
The burh or 'fort' is that on Blewburton Hill, "now and for some time past under the plough... on the summit an irregular oval of about 408 by 149 yards, that seems to have been enclosed by a ditch and rampart."
Rev J Wilson D.D. in Transactions Newbury FC 1872)
Among various finds from the digs at Blewburton hill, the skull and complete skeleton of a young horse was found and part of the lower jaw of an older horse. These were considered rather small horses and compared to modern day New Forest ponies.
The skull and limb bones of of an Early Iron Age dog were also found. The dog was thoough to be of a mongrel type of small size, with an estimated height at the shoulder of 20 inches.