Stunning Aerial Images of Hill Forts from Britain's Iron Age

Some 3,000 "hill forts" or "defended enclosures" are scattered across Britain. The elevated land provided a defensive advantage, with lines of fortifications—such as walls and ditches—erected around the hills' contours. Seen from the ground, they must have been imposing; seen from the sky, they're exquisite.

The site, Heritage Daily, has compiled several images of the forts, which emerged in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, and were in use by the ancient Britons until the Roman conquest. Here are a couple of the most memorable:

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort 1.6 miles southwest of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. The name Maiden Castle may be a modern construction meaning that the hill fort looks impregnable, or it could derive from the British Celtic mai-dun, meaning a "great hill."

The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the site consists of a Neolithic causeway enclosure and bank barrow. In about 1800 BC, during the Bronze Age, the site was used for growing crops before being abandoned. Maiden Castle itself was built in about 600 BC; the early phase was a simple and unremarkable site, similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering 16 acres. Around 450 BC it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was nearly tripled in size to 47 acres, making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions the largest in Europe.



Danebury is an Iron Age hill fort in Hampshire in England, about 12 miles northwest of Winchester. The site, covering 12 acres, was excavated in the 1970s. Danebury is considered a type-site for hill forts, and was important in developing the understanding of hill forts, as very few others have been so intensively excavated. Built in the 6th century BC, the fort was in use for almost 500 years.

See other hill fort images at Heritage Daily.

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