Maiden Castle is thought to be one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Europe. It is situated on the outskirts of Dorchester, Dorset’s county town and boasts beautiful views over the surrounding area. A visit to this interesting piece of history is well worth a couple of hours visit during your stay at South Lytchett Manor. It’s a great place to stretch the legs or take your dog for a walk.
The sheer size of Maiden Castle is impressive! It spans 47 acres and the undulating ramparts are quite the site to behold. Historically, they would have protected hundreds of residents from attack. Today they’re a fun place for children to run and play.
As you make your way to the top, take your time to view the scenery stretching in all directions. You can see Dorchester in the distance, as well as Poundbury, an interesting architectural project owned by prince Charles.
Over the years plenty of excavations have taken place here and revealed artefacts dating back over 6,000 years. The archaeological digs have unearthed a realm of treasures, including, pottery, bronze and iron tools, which indicate its uses of the years. It is thought that in Neolithic times Maiden Castle served as a symbolic space – providing people a sacred space to gather, hold ceremonies and feast. In the Iron Ages the fortress protected villages from invaders and provided people with a safe place to live and work.
There are information boards dotted around the site giving an insight into the relic’s past. But, if you want a more in-depth description, you can stream an audio tour to your phone. It is narrated by English Heritage and provides plenty of information on the lives of people who lived and died at Maiden Castle.
There’s a free car park at the base of Maiden Castle. Dogs are welcome, however there are grazing sheep in some areas. Due to the nature of the fortress, it is quite a steep walk to the top so good walking shoes are advised. It is not suitable for wheelchairs.
Photo credit: Andy Walker, Flickr
Follow signs to Dorchester
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