The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Blackbury Camp



Given the right conditions, this is possibly one of the most enchanting prehistoric enclosures you could ever come across, all things considered. In my opinion, a truly wondrous place indeed.

As Carl notes, Blackbury Camp is by no means large. However I prefer the adjective 'compact' to 'little', for this is no minor engineering work, remaining a very powerful univallate fortress. Pieces of flint protruding through the top soil inform the traveller that the hillfort is not in fact an earthwork, which comes as something of a surprise, I guess. Perhaps this has had a bearing on the excellent state of preservation, flint obviously far more resistant to the wear and tear of the myriad visitors who walk the rampart this morning... and presumably every other Sunday. Yeah, the elderly, young mums with children, annoying people walking dogs, a very attractive young lady in very tight jodhpurs (with a 'wiggle' that suddenly becomes a little too pronounced for the good of my health... jeez - I'll say no more)... the whole community seems to be here today, engendering an aura that is perhaps far more representative of the past than the usual Gladman hillfort visit.

What is far from representative, though, is the triangular outwork protecting what was presumably the original main entrance in the southern flank. Medieval castle-heads will no doubt recognise such 'barbicans' designed to counter surprise assaults upon what was always the weakest point of the enclosure... the way in. However such an arrangement as is to be found at Blackbury is rare at prehistoric sites... in my experience, anyway. There is a twist, too, the 'barbican' defences apparently unfinished - or at least destroyed - to the south. Given the very substantial nature of these additional banks and ditch I find it very unlikely that the constructors suddenly decided 'sod this for a game of soldiers, we're offski'. Perhaps a neighbouring warlord decided it was 'now or never' and made a desperate assault before completion. Dunno. Obviously. But what grim tales has Blackbury to tell?

I mentioned at the start 'given the right conditions'. Guess I should explain. Blackbury Camp is lightly wooded, no doubt at its best when sunlight slants through a thin April canopy to illuminate both the twisted roots colonising the defensive bank and the carpet of blue bells adorning the latter's flank, rising above the great ditch. I am lucky, the overcast conditions of mid morning breaking by lunchtime to achieve just this effect. Yeah, you could well walk around Blackbury's ancient rampart in 10 minutes or less. But I'll wager you'll want a couple of hours.... given the right conditions, of course.
6th May 2012ce
Edited 6th May 2012ce

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