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Maiden Castle (Dorchester)



It seems fairs were often held at hill forts - here's an example of what went on at one in 1798.
The King, Queen and all the Princesses, with a number of the Nobility, went to Maiden Castle near Dorchester to see the sports of the country people [..] the sports were announced in the following handbill:-

All persons of jovial, friendly, and loyal disposition are invited to be present at, and to partake of, the undermentioned country sports, which with others, to be declared upon the ground, are intended, if the weather be fine, to be exhibited at Maiden Castle, this day, September 29, at 11 o'clock in the morning, in honour of the Birthday of her Royal Highness the Duchess of Wurtembergh:-

To be played for at cricket, a round of beef: each man of the winning set to have a ribband.
A cheese to be rolled down the hill; prize to whoever stops it.
A silver cup to be run for by Ponies. The best of three heats.
A pound of tobacco to be grinned for.
A barrel of beer to be rolled down the hill; prize to whoever stops it.
A michaelmas-day goose to be dived for.
A good hat to be cudgelled for.
Half a guinea for the best ass in three heats.
A handsome hat, for the boy most expert in catching a roll dipped in treacle, and suspended by a string.
A leg of mutton and a gallon of porter to the winner of a race of 100 yards in sacks.
A good hat to be wrestled for.
Half a guinea to the rider of the ass who wins the best of three heats by coming in last.
A pig; prize to whoever catches him by the tail.
The mind boggles. Especially regarding the beer barrel.

From The Times, Oct 3rd 1798, quoted in Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset v5.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th June 2005ce
Edited 30th June 2005ce

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