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The stories behind seven of Somerset’s hills and what’s left of them Bath City News

Hidden among the hills of Somerset, there is more history than many of us realize.

As much as he can tell us a lot about the more modern military history of our country

Some of these hills once housed Iron Age forts and still bear the marks of their previous occupation.

From potential Somerset ties to the legend of King Arthur to the hiding place of Alfred the Great to the Danes in the 9th century, our county’s ancient history is here.

When you look around Somerset some of the striking remains of our ancient forts can still be seen today and the sites they sat on bear the marks of their past lives.

Here’s a look at some of Somerset’s most iconic forts, their history, and what remains of them today.

Athelney King Alfred’s monument in Athelney (Image: Fran Stothard)

Dating back to the Iron Age, Athelney is best known as the site where Alfred the Great hid from the Danes after his defeat in 876.

Found just off the A361 today between Bridgwater and Taunton and bordering the villages of East Lyng and Burrow Bridge, it remained the base of Aflred for his victory two years later against the great pagan army in the Battle of Edington (now Wiltshire) in 878.

The area was once known as “Athelney’s Island” and the hilltop site was the scene of television’s very first episode of Time Team in 1993.

Evidence of metalworking has been discovered at the site, suggesting that Alfred used the site to equip his army.

As part of his presence, and allegedly to thank his victory, Alfred founded a monastery, Athelney Abbey, at Athelney in 888, which survived until the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII in 1539. None of this survives above ground today.

It is currently represented by the King Alfred Monument, which was built there in 1801 and still stands on the site, but all other remains of the fort have been lost.

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Fort of Brean Down Brean Down (Image: Simon Galloway)

Perhaps Somerset’s most iconic fort, the famous peninsula site near Burnham-on-Sea is now a National Trust property.

The first signs of life on the down date back to 10,000 BC, when evidence of extinct creatures such as mammoths and woolly rhinos was discovered there.

Having an important defensive position, the region has a long history of human habitation, the first dating back to the Stone Age.

The fort as it stands today is Fort Palmerston, one of many built along the coast to protect Bristol and Cardiff from a possible Napoleonic invasion.

The ruins of the fort are still standing and accessible to the public, and some signs of an Iron Age fort on the east side of the down still remain to this day.

Features such as gun platforms also provide insight into the more modern military history of the region.

Cadbury Castle An aerial view of the old fort at Cadbury Castle (Image: Western Gazette)

A Bronze and Iron Age fort in South Cadbury, located just off the A303 near Yeovil, Cadbury Castle is a Somerset site with links to Arthurian legend.

During the Iron Age, the fort was occupied by the Durotriges tribe (which gave Dorset its name) and it was there that they took up a position against the Roman invaders.

Examination of the site revealed artefacts of human occupation and use from the Neolithic to the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as evidence of occupation during the Roman occupation and some subsequent uses, believed to date back to 470 until some time after 580.

Some interpretations of history have claimed, as early as the 1500s, that Cadbury Castle was actually King Arthur’s castle in Camelot, where the Round Table was located.

While still up for debate, some have claimed that the site was the basis of Arthurian legend, others also suggesting that Arthur, even though he was hosted at the traditional Tintagel site, could still have used the castle. of Cadbury as a defensive outpost.

The ramparts of the fort are still visible today to visitors to the site.

Dolebury Warren A view of the Iron Age fort in Dolebury Warren (Image: Western Gazette)

Located in Shipham Parish in the Mendip Hills, this site is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust.

Situated on a limestone ridge, it has been designated an ancient monument and was fortified in the Iron Age but mainly occupied during the Roman occupation of Brittany.

Paleolithic era flints, bronze spearheads, Bronze Age pottery, Roman pottery and coins have all been found at the site, providing insight into the history of the site.

The double ramparts of the old fort are still visible on the site, as well as the witnesses of its time as a medieval warren, which is why it bears its name.

Ham Hill A view of Ham Hill (Image: Western Daily Press)

Ham Hill, outside of Yeovil, is recognized as one of the largest Iron Age forts in Britain, covering an area of ​​around 210 acres.

After its origins in the Iron Age, it was later occupied during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods and later during the Roman and medieval eras.

Excavations in 2013 unearthed human skeletons on Ham Hill believed to date from the first or second century.

The fort is a listed old monument and the entirety of the hill is a geological site of Special Scientific Interest, and the whole is set in a country park now managed by the South Somerset District Council.

The site has been partially damaged due to mining activities, but it remains largely intact.

The steep and sloping Iron Age ramparts can still be seen in the area, as well as a deserted medieval village.

Solsbury Hill A morning view of Little Solsbury Hill (Image: Artur Lesniak / Local World)

Located inside the Cotswolds Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty outside Bath, Solsbury Hill is one of Somerset’s smallest ancient forts.

It is located above the village of Batheaston and offers a view of the city.

Now owned by the National Trust, it is believed to have been originally occupied between 300 BC and 100 BC, but the area is believed to have been abandoned and occupation ceased in the first century BC.

In previous times there were stories of a temple on top of Bladud, the legendary king of the British and also that the visible remains were of a Saxon fort used during the siege of Bath in AD 577.

It is also believed to be a possible site of the Battle of Badon, fought around 496 AD between the Saxons and the British. There is also evidence of medieval field systems at the top of the hill.

It is also the inspiration for the song of the same name by Peter Gabriel, released in 1977.

Stokeleigh Camp The ramparts of Stokeleigh Camp near Avon Gorge, North Somerset (Image: Local World)

This fort sits just inside the North Somerset border on the outskirts of Bristol, near the Leigh Woods National Trust site.

It is the largest of the three camps located in defense of the Avon Gorge and located on a promontory on the western side of the gorge.

It was protected by the Avon Gorge to the north and east, the steeply sloping Nightingale Valley to the south, and three ramparts that stretch out as they move inland towards the plateau. central.

Partial excavations of the site by the Bristol Spelaeological Society between 1966 and 1971 revealed the presence of debris from the late Iron Age and Roman-British occupation inside the fort.

This material included pottery, spindle whorls, an iron sickle, and a bronze brooch, most of which were recovered from pits.

It is also believed that it could have been occupied until the Middle Ages, and clear indicators of where the fort once stood remain still.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-26 23:00:00

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