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Xmas wanderings

Another year, another few days with the family in Dorset. I've been somewhat neglectful of wandering of late, partly brainstate, partly beer, partly HA. In particular I seem to have abandoned new sites in favour of the path well trod, revisiting my faves again and again, partly because I love em and partly to make sure they get the tlc they deserve. However, I think I'm coming out the other side and decided to celebrate this (and a new OS map) by visiting 3 hill forts I'd not seen before.

Hod Hill — Fieldnotes

[visited 27/12/05] I've been pondering on visiting this place for years, finally getting off my arse to see this and hambledon in the same day. So, firstly, this place is huge. I'm not surprised the Romans went to the additional hassle of cornering off part of this massive fort for their pad, the iron age ramparts would have required many hundreds to defend properly. Walking the ramparts in December is a chilly affair but the views either side of Hambledon are awesome, looking out down the side of Cranbourne Chase and onto the vast plain in front of you.

Access is for the reasonably fit, the car park is at the bottom of the hill then its up a steep slope to the fort.

Hambledon — Fieldnotes

[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.

After those, I had a couple of visits to old faithfuls, Nine Stones and Rempstone. More pathetic chalk swastikas at Nine Stones dampened my mood, as did a No Entry sign newly errected at Rempstone, but I pushed through with the help of scrumpy and on my way back to Bath decided to pop in to the giant breast I keep driving past.

Cley Hill — Fieldnotes

[visited 28/12/05] I almost crashed first time I drove past this on the way to Dorset, not only are the ramparts immense but there was a gert huge nipple on top of a giant breast, just to the right of my vision. Cut to 1 1/2 years later, I finally had the Warminister map and went "Oh thats Cley Hill". This is a popular place and I was fortunate to get a parking space as I headed up here for sunset.

The defenses are steep, in fact the whole hill is steep, I imagine they had all sorts of fun trying to get the carts with provisions in up to the top here. Now perhaps my brain just sees breasts, but the barrow is large and very carefully placed... As a whole the hill is still in great condition and sees a lot of use, not surprising given how prominent it must be from Warminster.

Access is up a steep hill and through a gate from the car park.
juamei Posted by juamei
30th December 2005ce
Edited 19th January 2006ce

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