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Maiden Castle

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Maiden Castle

List entry Number: 1015775

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Winterborne Monkton

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Winterborne St. Martin

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1997

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22959

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between 5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection of the power struggle between competing elites. Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts, oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered, for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere. In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

Maiden Castle is an outstanding example of its class, surviving well and acting as a landmark in the local area. Its history is well known, having been the subject of investigations over the years by, amongst others, Sir Mortimer Wheeler.

Although known primarily as a hillfort, the Neolithic deposits represent some of the earliest monumental remains in the area. Causewayed enclosures and bank barrows are rare forms of monument nationally and their association at Maiden Castle is one of only two cases to be identified. The Neolithic monuments at Maiden Castle exerted an influence upon the location of monuments to the north: two long barrows were aligned upon the bank barrow, and these later formed foci for Bronze age round barrow cemeteries.

During the Iron Age, the hilltop was progressively developed into one of the largest hillforts in Britain. The hillfort is particularly noted for the scale and extent of the outer ramparts and well developed entrance earthworks. Excavation has demonstrated the survival of extensive buried deposits including structural foundations and occupation debris within the centre of the hilltop. This has enabled a detailed insight into the nature of the use and development of the hilltop and lifestyles of the successive communities associated with it. Excavation has produced rare traces of Roman military equipment dating to the period of the Roman invasion. This includes the famous find of a ballista within the vertebrae of an adult man. The hilltop continued to be utilised later in the Romano-British period and a Romano-Celtic temple was established near to an earlier pre-Roman shrine.

Maiden Castle is a well known and much visited monument, about which much has been written over the years. Its connection with the history of English literature, through reference in the novels of Thomas Hardy, contributes to its popularity.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

Maiden Castle, known primarily for its Iron Age hillfort, includes multi- period remains on a chalk hilltop of the South Dorset Downs, overlooking the valleys of the rivers Frome and South Winterborne. The site was partly excavated by Edward Cunnington (1884) and Sir Mortimer Wheeler (1934-37), revealing that the hilltop had been occupied over a long period. Additional investigations conducted during 1985-6 included further part excavations and a programme of environmental sampling.

The earliest features to be identified at the site include a group of pits across the hilltop, associated with Early Neolithic flintwork. Environmental evidence suggests that the pits date to around 4000 BC, a time when the hilltop was first cleared of woodland. Soon after this, a causewayed enclosure was constructed on the eastern plateau, enclosing an area of about 8ha. The enclosure was defined by two concentric lines of ditch, constructed as a series of irregular segments situated 14m-15m apart. The inner ditch is 3m-4m wide and was constructed as segments later joined together. The outer ditch is 1.7m-2.4m wide and constructed as segments associated with causeways 5m-6m wide. The enclosure may have contained a long barrow and is associated with two human infant burials.

Around 3500 BC, and after the enclosure had fallen out of use, a bank barrow was constructed near to the centre of the hilltop, part of it overlying the western end of the causewayed enclosure. The barrow has a mound 546m long, 17.5m wide and 0.5m-1m high, composed of earth, flint and chalk. The mound has three sections and may have developed from an earlier long barrow. The central mound is 65m long and approximately 1m high, with an extension to the east and west. The mound has a quarry ditch 5.5m wide and c.1.5m deep on either side. During the Later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, archaeological evidence suggests that human occupation of the hilltop continued, although probably on a reduced scale. The two bowl barrows and small enclosure situated near the centre of the hilltop are of this period. Environmental evidence indicates pastoral conditions at this time.

The hillfort overlies the earlier Neolithic causewayed enclosure and is known to have had a complex development history. Initially it was defined by a single rampart in the form of a chalk bank 6.6m wide and c.3m high, an outer ditch 15m wide and c.6m deep and an intervening berm, or gently sloping platform, 3m wide. The ramparts enclosed an area of 6.5ha and were broken by entrances to the east and west, both guarded by timber gates.

During the second half of the 3rd century BC the ramparts were extended around the hilltop to enclose an area of 20ha, and during the mid-2nd century BC the ramparts were rebuilt on a larger scale: the bank was increased in size and a second ditch added to the south. Following several remodellings, the ramparts finally consisted of three banks and two ditches around the hilltop, with an extra bank and ditch along the gentler slope to the south. The interior of the hillfort is known to have been intensively occupied. Traces of circular and rectangular huts and buildings are known from post holes, trenches and floor remains. The largest circular example situated within the eastern area of the fort, may have later been developed into a shrine. Roads, gullies, ponds, storage pits and ovens have been identified in association with the structures.

Finds from the hillfort include several large groups of sling stones, large quantities of Iron Age pottery, brooches, beads, spinning whorls, loom weights, weaving combs, bone horse-bit cheek pieces, worked Kimmeridge shale, quern and saddle stones and 19 Celtic coins. Around 50 human burials have been identified, many within a cemetery at the east end of the monument. The later burials are sometimes associated with grave goods including pots, axe heads, and knives as well as the bones of ox, pig and sheep.

Following the Roman Conquest, occupation of the hilltop declined and the Roman town of Durnovaria was established to the north east at Dorchester. However, a Romano-Celtic temple was constructed at the eastern end of the fort during the 4th century AD. The building, built of flint and limestone, comprised a central block (or cella) 6m square, surrounded by a corridor or verandah 2.5m wide, within a walled precinct 13m by 12m in plan. The cella may have had a black and white mosaic floor and the corridor had a red tesserated pavement. The structure was roofed in stone tiles, later replaced by clay. The dedication of the temple is unknown, but is most likely to have been to a pagan deity.

In the post-Roman period, the hilltop was used for grazing of stock and several dew ponds were constructed to provide water. During the 17th century the hilltop was ploughed, but there is no evidence that the hilltop has been cultivated during the last two centuries.

Excluded from the scheduling are the Nissan huts within the north western area, the gates and fence posts relating to the modern field boundaries and all notice boards, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 471
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 498-9
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 500
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 500
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 499
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 497
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 500
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 500
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 499
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 496
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 498
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 502
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 497
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 498
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 500
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 495
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 502
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 493
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 501
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 41
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 41
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 38
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 38
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 38
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 38
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 102
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 41
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 123
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 41
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 43
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 49
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 48
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 54
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 53
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 54
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 54
Sharples, N M, Maiden Castle: Excavation and field survey 1985-6, (1991), 49
Other
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1955 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mapped depiction of pond

National Grid Reference: SY 66891 88459

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015775 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2017 at 10:41:26.

End of official listing