On the way back from Dorset we decided to stop off at Maiden Castle. which is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts in Europe. The sheer scale of the earthworks and defensive ditches is huge, apparently you can get 50 football pitches inside the walls, however finding a photograph that looks anything other than a grassy mound proved impossible. Maiden Castle’s earthworks are thought to date from around 600 BCE, although the site was first occupied in the Neolithic period around 6000 years ago.
When the Romans overran Maiden Castle in AD 43 they moved the local tribespeople to a new town Durnovaria, on the site of modern Dorchester, where they could keep an eye on them. However being the practical folk they were they built a temple in the castle grounds absorbing the Celtic holy site and gods into their own portfolio brand of paganism. Maiden Castle is just two miles south of Dorchester and free to explore.
Crossing over the county line into Wiltshire we stopped off at Stonehenge before heading for home. For my money Stonehenge is one of the most marvelous ancient sites in the world. When you consider the design and engineering that went into the construction it’s far more impressive than say the Pyramids (I’m not knocking them. but pyramids are simple structures to build) and all this was created by people with stone tools.
Before we visited the stone circle we had a bite to eat at the snack bar, which used to be really good. Unfortunately it’s been taken over by Digby Trout restaurants, so the food is now a bit homogenized and pricey. We also had some guests.
who came looking for crumbs.
The stone circle was packed with coach parties of American and Japanese tourists from London, but that didn’t put off this fellow from enjoying a strut.
As English Heritage members we have free access to Stonehenge, normal admission is £7.80.