You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2013.

A few weeks ago, we challenged you to ‘Guess the Hillfort‘ in our annual Summer Quiz. To make things slightly easier, we restricted ourselves to a geographical area no further West than Bristol, no further North or East than Oxford, but stretching down to the South coast. As I write this at the end of May with Whitsun behind us, the sun is blazing through the window, it must be Summer, so here are the answers:

Hillfort 1 – Maiden Castle, Dorset


We’d imagine most readers recognised this one, found southwest of Dorchester. With a history that includes a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure and farming use in the Bronze Age, the fort was first properly constructed around 600 BC, undergoing significant expansion 150 or so years later. At this time the fort increased in size from 16 acres up to 47 acres – the largest hill fort in Britain. The fort appears to have been abandoned as a habitable area after the Roman invasion in the 1st Century AD although there is some evidence of a later temple building in the 5th Century AD. The site was excavated in the 1930s by Mortimer Wheeler. Further excavations were carried out in 1985-6, under the direction of Niall Sharples.

Hillfort 2 – Battlesbury Camp, Wiltshire

East of Warminster is Battlesbury Hill, surmounted by the Camp. The defenses follow the natural contours of the hill, enclosing some 23.5 acres. Finds of late Iron Age pottery date the fort to the 1st Century BC, though there are earlier Bronze Age barrows to the south and West of the fort.

Hillfort 3 – Badbury Rings, Dorset


Situated 3 miles or so to the northwest of Wimborne Minster, the hill fort has two main phases on construction, the first of 18 acres, the second more than doubling this to 41 acres. As with many Iron Age forts, Bronze Age barrows in the area point to earlier use of the site. The site was excavated as recently as 2004, led by Martin Papworth.

Hillfort 4 – Yarnbury, Wiltshire


A few miles west of Stonehenge on the A303, can be seen the banks and ramparts of Yarnbury hill fort. Some 28.5 acres in size, it was most recently extensively surveyed in 1991. A smaller and earlier banked enclosure of 13 acres, dated to around 300 BC lies inside the main fort which has been dated from finds to around 100 BC. The site was used for the local Winterbourne Stoke sheep fair up until 1916, and the location of many of the pens and folds used are still in evidence today as crop marks, in the right conditions.

Hillfort 5 – Danebury, Hampshire


Situated 2 miles northwest of Stockbridge, Danebury is a ‘type site’ for hill forts and was
extensively excavated by Sir Barry Cunliffe in the 1970’s. The site covers 12 acres, dates from the 6th Century BC and was in use for over 500 years, being abandoned around 100 BC. If you’re considering a visit here, the Museum of the Iron Age,  some 5 miles to the north in Andover is well worth visiting first with extensive displays and finds from the site which help enormously with interpretation when you’re on site.

Hillfort 6 – Barbury Castle, Wiltshire


Five miles south of Swindon, and 4 miles northwest of Avebury lies Barbury Castle, one of several hill forts on or near the old Ridgeway track. Dating from around 500 BC, occupation continued into the Roman period, and beyond. Saxon weapons and possible inhumations for the later period have been identified here. The hill fort was used as an anti-aircraft gunnery station in the Second World War, maintaining a possible military use for the site down the ages. There has been no formal excavation,
other that that done by the military in the 1930s.

Hillfort 7 – Uley Bury, Gloucestershire


Uley Bury is a long flat-topped hill, just outside Uley, 5 miles southwest of Stroud. With steep natural slopes on all sides apart from the northern corner, it is an ideal location for a hill fort. At 32 acres, it required over a mile of ramparts to be built on the slopes. There is evidence of occupation from 300 BC to 100 AD, a timescale in common with many other hill forts. Hetty Pegler’s Tump, a Neolithic long barrow re-opened to the public in 2011 after two years of repair works, lies a short distance to the north of
the hill fort.

Hillfort 8 – Hod Hill, Dorset


Hod Hill, near Blandford Forum is another hill fort that departs from the more usual ’rounded’ appearance, being roughly rectangular and enclosing an area of some 54 acres. Radiocarbon dating suggests a date of 500 BC for the main rampart, but this was one of the forts captured by the Roman Vespasian in 43 AD. remains of the subsequent Roman Camp can be see in the northwest corner on the image above. The site was excavated in the 1950s by Sir Ian Richmond.

Hillfort 9 – Figsbury Ring, Wiltshire


3.5 miles northeast of Salisbury, Figsbury Ring is a somewhat enigmatic structure, owing to the presence of an internal ditch, some 30 yards or so inside the main bank. Identified as an Iron Age hillfort by the Cunningtons in the 1920s, this interpretation has been the subject of ongoing debate ever since. Reappraisal in the 1980s of some of the finds from the Cunnington excavations identified Grooved Ware and flint tools, indicating a much earlier Neolithic date for the first use of the site. There are suggestions that Figsbury started out as a Causewayed Enclosure, was later used as a henge monument before finally being transformed into a hill fort defensive site.

Hillfort 10 – Uffington, Oxfordshire


Uffington Castle, a defensive enclosure just to the southwest of the famous white horse, dates back to the early Iron Age (7-800 BC) and encloses an area of just over 8 acres. Excavations have failed to find conclusive evidence for Iron Age buildings, although isolated post holes have been located and finds of pottery and loom weights indicate that some form of occupation took place.

Hillfort 11 – Liddington Castle (Camp), Wiltshire


Liddington Castle or Camp lies just east of Chiseldon, south of Swindon, covers an area of around 7 acres and dates to the Late Bronze/Early Iron Ages, making it one of the earliest hillforts in Britain. Excavation finds suggest Liddington was abandoned early (500 BC?) but possibly re-occupied in Roman times. There was research carried out (with excavation) in the 1970s to try to link Liddington to the fabled Badon Hill of Arthurian myth, but nothing could be conclusively proved.

Hillfort 12 – Old Sarum, Wiltshire


Shame on any hill fort fans who failed to recognise Old Sarum! The outline of the much later church in the northwest is the biggest clue here. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC, and the site has been inhabited throughout history; Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans all playing their part in the history of the place before it fell out of use in Tudor times and was sold by Henry VIII.

We hope you enjoyed the quiz – how many did you get right? More information on many of the hill forts above can be found in the excellent English Heritage publication ‘The Wessex Hillforts Project‘, available as a free download, which we can heartily recommend for hillforts fans!

All images above were taken from, and copyright of, Google Maps. 

Even more events, compiled by Sue Brooke


Cornwall Archaeological Society

Regular walks and talks of interest:

The Society was formed in 1961 – it grew out of the West Cornwall Field Club, itself founded in 1935 by a group of enthusiasts who were studying the archaeology of West Cornwall.

WALKS – Every month there is an archaeological walk somewhere in Cornwall led by members or an invited expert.

ACTIVITIES – The Society gives opportunities for those interested in practical archaeology to participate in fieldwork and learn archaeological techniques. Members often take part in excavations run by the Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service (HES).

JULY WALK – Sunday 14th July 2013. 11.00 to 16.00 Cliff castles and ancient sites on the North Coast with Steve Hebdige.

Meeting in Porthcothan Car Park (SW8580 7291). Please note there is a car parking charge. The advice is that you should bring a packed lunch and, due to the weather, suitable outdoor clothing. The plan is to leave Porthcothan heading towards Park Head, back to Porthcothan for lunch and then onto Wine Cove, Treyarnon before heading back to the car park. There is a short steep descent and climb out of Porth Meor in the first part of the walk as well as a climb out of Porthcothan after lunch. This coastal walk will take in barrows, cliff castles at Park Head and Wine Cove and stunning views set in a landscape used since prehistory as illustrated by crop marks from aerial photographs.

Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network

‘A charitable partnership formed to look after the ancient sites and monuments of Cornwall. Currently working closely with local communities and official organisations to protect and promote our ancient heritage landscape through research, education and outreach activities’

Volunteers are always very welcome at the monthly clear-ups. These events are a really good opportunity to get a bit more hands-on whilst helping to clear an ancient site in the landscape. This not only allows for physical preservation of the site itself but helps it to be kept safe for others to enjoy in the future. Please note that suitable footwear and clothing is needed although tools or any necessary equipment will be provided.

JULY CLEAN-UP – Tuesday July 16th 2013 – 12.00 (midday).

The next clean-up will be held at St. Rumon’s Church (SW7039 1643). Please meet at the lane to the farm, off the A3083. See website for more details.



Museum of London:

Saturday and Sunday 20th & 21st July – Festival of Archaeology – The Secret Museum.

Exclusive behind the scenes tours of stores and archives at the Museum of London and the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre.

Sat 20 Jul, 11am – 4pm – Bishops Square, London E1 6EG

Skeletons in the closet – find out in Spitalfields, where you can have the chance to see inside the remains of a medieval charnel house, hidden underneath the pavement near the market. Experts from English Heritage will reveal the history of this fascinating site.

Please note families are welcome to this event!

Sat 20 & Sun 21 Jul, 10.15-11.45am, 12.15-1.45pm, 2.15-3.45pm & 4.15-5.45pm – Museum of London

Secret stores tour: metal store & conservation labs

Get into heavy metal as our curators throw open the doors to the metal store to reveal 4000 years of history captured in tin, bronze and iron. Then come up to the lab to learn about how these and other historic London objects are cared for by our conservators. Age 16+

Book in advance £10 (£70 for a group booking of 8 people). To book tickets call the Museum of London Box Office on 020 7001 9844.

Sat 20 & Sun 21 Jul, 10.30am – 12pm, 12.30-2pm, 2.30-4pm, 4.30-5pm – Secret stores tour: human remains – Museum of London

We know where the bodies are – and so will you as our Osteology curators take you on a tour of our human remains store before revealing what we can learn from ancient bodies in the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology. Age 16+

Book in advance £10 (£70 for a group booking of 8 people). To book tickets call the Museum of London Box Office on 020 7001 9844.

Please note there are also a range of activities on offer specifically for children. For more information please follow:


13 & 14 July: Festival of Archaeology 10.30 am. Maidstone Museum

More detailed information coming soon – please check out

Saturday 13th to Sunday 14th July 2013- Maidstone Museum. All Day Events

Maidstone Museum, in collaboration with the Kent Archaeological Society and Regia-Anglorum (the country’s leading group of early medieval living history enthusiasts) will host an exciting two day outdoor event designed to illustrate the richness of the county’s Saxon history.

From Saturday 13th to Sunday 14th July 2013, they will re-create a Saxon village in the Museum’s beautiful public gardens. The displays of Saxon art, craft, cooking, music and weapons will be complemented in the Museum by displays, lectures, object handling sessions, demonstrations of conservation techniques and a host of activities for families and children. All will draw upon the Museum’s fantastic Anglo-Saxon collections, recognised as being amongst the country’s fines


MBArchaeology specialises in Community Archaeology, Education & Research. Based in Nottinghamshire / Derbyshire and offering educational talks, walks, workshops and courses on a whole variety of archaeological topics.

Derbyshire – full-day field visits that run throughout the summer to sites of historical and archaeological interest.

July 13-28 – Festival of British Archaeology – more info coming soon

stonehenge Heel Stone


Wiltshire Heritage Museum runs a large number of events, exhibitions and activities both for the general public and members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.

10:00 am Saturday, 6th July 2013 running until 1st September 2013

EXHIBITION: Inspirations from the Bronze Age: an exhibition by six outstanding contemporary designers and makers


Flag Fen Archaeology Park. The Droveway, Northey Road, Peterborough, PE6 7QJ

Flag Fen is open daily from 10am-5pm (last entry at 4pm) from April to October and is a marvellous opportunity to see the work undertaken.



National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP – FREE ENTRY

Origins: In Search of Early Wales. A static exhibition in The Archaeology Gallery – This traces life in Wales from the earliest humans 230,000 years ago. Who were our ancestors, and how different were they from us? What has changed and what has caused these changes? A stunning and thought provoking exhibition where you get the chance to see things close up.

Visit the Origins – In Search of Early Wales webpages

Until 7th. July 2013 – Julian Stair: Quietus – The Vessel, Death and the Human Body.

An exhibition of beautiful funerary vessels – from cinerary jars to sarcophagi exploring the containment of the human body after death.

2nd July to 4th. August 2013 – The Mold Cape Spotlight Tour (In partnership with the British Museum)

Find out about this stunning ceremonial cape of gold and the Bronze Age people who made it.


11th July 2013 – 14.00 – 15.00 (English) 15.00 – 16.00 (Welsh)

Behind the Scenes: What lies beneath?

Join Elen Phillips, Curator of Textiles, to uncover the hidden secrets of the textile collection. Find out what our ancestors wore beneath their clothing and how they kept evil spirits at bay!

Spaces are limited for this tour so please book early to avoid disappointment


Compiled by Sue Brooke



Dig into the past at the 23rd Festival of Archaeology! Co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, the Festival offers over 1,000 events nationwide, organised by museums, heritage organisations, national and country parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists. A small selection of these events is listed below. To find out more (more events are listing daily) please check:


Church Meadow excavation open day Sat 13th Jul 2013   South East | Surrey

An open day, in conjunction with Ewell Village Fair, giving you the chance to see the current season’s excavation in Ewell’s Roman settlement

Archaeology week at Tintagel Castle Sat 27th Jul 2013 – Sat 3rd Aug 2013   South West | Cornwall

It’s the Festival of Archaeology so join us for fun activities for the whole family. Get hands-on and discover more about the history of Tintagel through our experts and the fascinating artefacts uncovered here over the years.

Dig with us! Mon 15th Jul 2013 – Fri 19th Jul 2013 North East | Tyne and Wear

Newcastle University archaeologists and English Heritage will be excavating the 19th century forge workers cottages at Derwentcote Steelworks near Ebchester. Local volunteers (including accompanied children) are welcome to come along and dig with us: just turn up on whichever day(s) you choose.

Newbarns project archaeological excavation Sat 13th Jul 2013 – Sat 27th Jul 2013  Scotland | Dumfries and Galloway

Ancient burial site consisting of 3 Neolithic kerb cairns, adapted for later Bronze Age/Iron Age burials with settlement evidence from the Anglian and Medieval eras in the form of stonework. Contributions greatly received but no charge for entry or having a go.

Dorchester on Thames archaeological excavation open day Sat 20th Jul 2013  West Midlands | Oxfordshire

Learn more about the site of the Roman small town at Dorchester on Thames. Bring artefacts you may have found in your own garden to be identified and see the objects we have excavated. Take a site tour with the Director and see what we have been digging.

The Anglo-Saxons in the North Sat 2nd Mar 2013 – Tue 31st Dec 2013   North East | County Durham

The Anglo-Saxons in the North A small display in the Streatlam Galleries from March to December 2013, will highlight the Anglo-Saxon collections at The Bowes Museum, in celebration of the Lindisfarne Gospels in the North East.

Archaeology discovery day   Sun 28th Jul 2013  South West | Gloucestershire

Archaeological skills/hands-on activity. Join us for a day of discovery! Visitors will get the chance to learn more about the excavations in Dr Jenner’s Garden. There will be talks about the finds excavated from the garden and there will be some finds on display. Plus sandpit digs, finds cleaning and even finds identification. There will be tours of the site through the day and all visitors get to see the museum exhibits about Edward Jenner – passionate not only about medicine but also geology and fossils!

Medieval mysteries Thu 25th Jul 2013 Wales | Caerphilly

A day of hands-on art, craft and traditional skills, activities, tours, and talks


Archaeology in the Community (AITC) will be running events with young people to coincide with Festival of Archaeology. Please check them out at

More to come, later this week!

Mega Job….
Do you have a few hours to spare?


Crooks delight …
Central Searchers, eh? Rallies on unique archaeology, customers who threaten us, a Rule that gives crooks carte blanche to steal from farmers and scores of customers that say not a word about it. You’d think, after we’d publicised it, they’d have dropped Rule 11 – but no. For years it was here (click Rules) but not now. They’ve simply hidden it – not from their paying customers but from you Dear Reader! Here’s some food for thought to make you proud to be British: Central Searchers’ rallies would be totally illegal in every Third World country!

Bluestone Blues…



Another open letter to The Archaeology Forum



loDear Sirs,

We have been writing to you since February 2011 about the threat to archaeology posed by the new deep-seeking metal detectors – see here and here. We have even suggested they may well have been used to steal part of the Staffordshire Hoard – see here.  We wonder whether you have decided to make representations to the Government?

Please be aware there’s a current TV series, Hoard Hunters, that appears to be aimed at promoting Minelab’s new deep-seeking models. It features two detectorists (one of whom runs Minelabowners Forum and Minelab TV) who visit known hoard sites with “the latest technology” in order to find any “treasure” that may have been missed. The detector in question is the Minelab GPX 5000 which is shown being used while it’s virtues are spelled out: “I’ve got new equipment” …. “the latest technology that can go deeper“ …. “mineralisation is invisible to this machine so it gets a lot, lot deeper” …. “coins further down are in better condition with this deeper machine and that extra depth is thanks to this machine” …. “I’m going to encourage everybody to find Roman Coins” …. “one in ten signals like this is a hoard”.

It’s hard to see it as other than an extensive sales pitch, one that will generate sales not only to those who might use them illegally but to a far more numerous and therefore damaging group – those that would use the machines legally but unethically, ignoring the official code with it’s caveat about not digging below the plough soil. Since “Britain’s Secret Treasures” created a sales boom in ordinary metal detectors it seems probable that this series will do the same for the GPX 5000.

Official silence about deep-seeking machines is hard to understand. Is it that there’s a concern that if detectorists are displeased those that co-operate will cease doing so? If so, perhaps it’s time the issue was confronted. The National Council for Metal Detecting recently issued the seventeenth threat of a recording strike. How much longer must conservation policy be dictated by artefact hunters?

Yours faithfully

Heritage Action


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting



June 2013

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