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Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head

Overview
Hengistbury Head is a headland
Headlands and bays
Headlands and bays are two related features of the coastal environment.- Geology and geography :Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high,...

 jutting into the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 between Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

 and Milford on Sea
Milford on Sea
Milford on Sea is a large village and civil parish located on the south coast of England in the county of Hampshire. With a population of approximately 4500, Milford has a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs in its high street, which borders the village green.-Overview:Milford on Sea is village...

 in the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 county of Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

.

At the end is a spit
Spit (landform)
A spit or sandspit is a deposition landform found off coasts. At one end, spits connect to land, and extend into the sea. A spit is a type of bar or beach that develops where a re-entrant occurs, such as at cove's headlands, by the process of longshore drift...

 which creates the narrow entrance to Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch.Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the...

.

Hengistbury Head is a sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 headland which forms part of Southbourne
Southbourne, Dorset
Southbourne is a suburb of Bournemouth. It is the most easterly part of the borough, between Boscombe and Christchurch, Dorset. The area was previously known as Stourfield....

, the most easterly part of the Borough of Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

, Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

.

Hengistbury Head forms the southern boundary of Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch.Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the...

. The sand bar at the end of the Head is the main feature closing the harbour from the south, while a peninsula at Mudeford
Mudeford
Mudeford was originally a small fishing village in the borough of Christchurch, Dorset southern England, lying at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour. The River Mude and Bure Brook flow into the harbour there...

 closes the harbour from the north.

The region was originally named Hynesbury Head.
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Encyclopedia
Hengistbury Head is a headland
Headlands and bays
Headlands and bays are two related features of the coastal environment.- Geology and geography :Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high,...

 jutting into the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 between Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

 and Milford on Sea
Milford on Sea
Milford on Sea is a large village and civil parish located on the south coast of England in the county of Hampshire. With a population of approximately 4500, Milford has a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs in its high street, which borders the village green.-Overview:Milford on Sea is village...

 in the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 county of Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

.

At the end is a spit
Spit (landform)
A spit or sandspit is a deposition landform found off coasts. At one end, spits connect to land, and extend into the sea. A spit is a type of bar or beach that develops where a re-entrant occurs, such as at cove's headlands, by the process of longshore drift...

 which creates the narrow entrance to Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch.Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the...

.

Location


Hengistbury Head is a sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 headland which forms part of Southbourne
Southbourne, Dorset
Southbourne is a suburb of Bournemouth. It is the most easterly part of the borough, between Boscombe and Christchurch, Dorset. The area was previously known as Stourfield....

, the most easterly part of the Borough of Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

, Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

.

Hengistbury Head forms the southern boundary of Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch.Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the...

. The sand bar at the end of the Head is the main feature closing the harbour from the south, while a peninsula at Mudeford
Mudeford
Mudeford was originally a small fishing village in the borough of Christchurch, Dorset southern England, lying at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour. The River Mude and Bure Brook flow into the harbour there...

 closes the harbour from the north.

The name


The region was originally named Hynesbury Head. However, after the discovery of the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 artifacts–and in apparent confusion over a reference to the area as Hedenesburia–it was renamed Hengistbury Head after the Jutish
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 king Hengest
Hengest
Hengist and Horsa are figures of Anglo-Saxon, and subsequently British, legend, which records the two as the Germanic brothers who led the Angle, Saxon, and Jutish armies that conquered the first territories of Great Britain in the 5th century AD...

.

History


The promontory has witnessed a long sequence of human occupation but is most famous as a fortified Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 mercantile centre playing an important role in cross-Channel trade between Britain
British Iron Age
The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron-Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ireland, and which had an independent Iron Age culture of...

 and Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

.

Stone Age


Long prior to this, the site was occupied during the Upper Palaeolithic. There is evidence of an open settlement of the Creswellian
Creswellian
The Creswellian is a British Upper Palaeolithic culture named after the type site of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire by Dorothy Garrod in 1926. It dates to between c...

 culture on the hill in the middle of the headland dating to around 10,500 BC. At the time, this hill would have overlooked a large river valley that was to become the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. Later, once the sea had inundated the surrounding valley, Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 hunter gatherers exploited the site and Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 stone tools have been found but it was not until the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 that visible traces of the site's occupation are apparent.

Bronze Age


Eleven Bronze Age round barrow
Round barrow
Round barrows are one of the most common types of archaeological monuments. Although concentrated in Europe they are found in many parts of the world because of their simple construction and universal purpose....

s sit on the promontory with two more a little further inland. Numerous finds including Early Bronze Age axes, along with Amber
Amber
Amber is fossilized tree resin , which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents...

 and gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 jewellery were recovered from these monuments. Pottery found nearby to the barrows also indicates visitation during 1700-1400BC. In around 700 BC, a small settlement to the very north of the headland was established; also around this time, the headland was cut off from the mainland by the construction of two banks and ditches. These earthworks turned Hengistbury Head into a fortified settlement area which seems to have grown over succeeding centuries until it became an important port.

The barrows at the site were first excavated by J. P. Bushe-Fox between 1911 and 1912 and then by Harold St George Gray in the years following the First World War. Most of our knowledge of the site comes from Barry Cunliffe
Barry Cunliffe
Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe, CBE, known professionally as Barry Cunliffe is a former Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford, a position held from 1972 to 2007...

's work there between 1979 and 1984.

Iron Age


One side of the Head is defended by large earthworks
Hill fort
A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are typically European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Some were used in the post-Roman period...

, called the "double dykes", similar to those found at Maiden Castle
Maiden Castle, Dorset
Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort south west of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. Hill forts were fortified hill-top settlements constructed across Britain during the Iron Age...

. These date to approximately 700 BC Due to the high concentration of iron ore in the area, this location became a significant trading port, trading worked metal–iron, silver, and bronze–with the Continent in return for wine, tools, and pottery. Many coins have been found from this period (making it one of the few areas in pre-Roman Britain to use coins). Interestingly, some of them were fake–worthless cores dipped in silver.

Roman occupation


Under the Romans
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, Hengistbury Head was initially left alone, possibly as a result of its distance from Roman centres of power. However, as Roman rule expanded, trade was moved away from the Head to other Roman ports. Consequently, the region saw a decline in prosperity, and indeed, by about the time the Romans left (c.410 AD), the area was abandoned.

Medieval use


The area was not substantially reoccupied until Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

 decided to rebuild the harbour
Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch.Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the...

 as a defence against raiders. He built the town that later became Christchurch
Christchurch, Dorset
Christchurch is a borough and town in the county of Dorset on the south coast of England. The town adjoins Bournemouth in the west and the New Forest lies to the east. Historically in Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974 and is the most easterly borough in...

, on the north side of the harbour. Access to Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

 up the River Avon made this a more strategic place. The Head may have been used for harbour defense at this time.

Nineteenth century


From 1848 to 1872, the Hengistbury Mining Company, formed by a local merchant, Mr. Holloway, extracted ironstone boulders. These form the base of Hengistbury Head, and the removal of a substantial quantity has weakened the headland. The quarry resulted in a loss of about a third of the Head, mainly by erosion since the quarry closed. The silt being washed down also threatened the ecology of the saltmarsh below. This has been reduced by building a dam, in 1976, to create a pool. Mr. Holloway brought coal from Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, and took the ironstone as ballast for the return journey.

The Head today




The head today is used for a variety of reasons. Firstly it is a tourist spot where country walks can be taken all over the head due to the well defined gravel paths, some of which form part of the Bournemouth Coast Path
Bournemouth Coast Path
The Bournemouth Coast Path is a 20 mile long footpath through Dorset and Hampshire, England from Sandbanks to Milford-on-Sea.The path follows the coastline and goes through Bournemouth, Boscombe, Southbourne, Hengistbury Head, Mudeford and Highcliffe....

. During 2008, many paths have been resurfaced, making more (though not all) parts of the Head wheelchair accessible. For example, it is now possible to gain wheelchair access to Quarry Pool.

There is a cafe at the bottom of the head on the Bournemouth side and a scenic land train
Trackless train
A trackless train is a road-going articulated vehicle used for the transport of passengers, comprising a driving vehicle pulling one or more carriages connected by drawbar couplings, in the manner of a road going railway train.-Terminology:Trackless train or land train...

 to the end of the spit, a journey of ten or so minutes. On the head itself is a H. M. Coastguard radio relay station, a nature reserve
Nature reserve
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research...

 and a triangulation pillar, shown on Ordnance Survey maps as 36 metres above sea level. Ample parking (subject to charges) can be found near the cafe, but the Head is also within walking distance of Southbourne
Southbourne, Dorset
Southbourne is a suburb of Bournemouth. It is the most easterly part of the borough, between Boscombe and Christchurch, Dorset. The area was previously known as Stourfield....

 and parts of Christchurch
Christchurch, Dorset
Christchurch is a borough and town in the county of Dorset on the south coast of England. The town adjoins Bournemouth in the west and the New Forest lies to the east. Historically in Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974 and is the most easterly borough in...

. By the car park is a hut containing further information about the head. On windy days the head is very good for kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

 flying.

The main nature reserve area faces Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England named after the nearby town of Christchurch.Two Rivers the Avon and the Stour flow into the Harbour at its northwest corner. The harbour is generally shallow and due to the tidal harmonics in the...

, and is contiguous with the reed beds of Wick Fields
Wick, Bournemouth
Wick is a village on the southern bank of the River Stour just before it enters Christchurch Harbour. Although only half a mile away from Christchurch Priory, the village is in the borough of Bournemouth, the town centre of which is 4.5 miles away....

. One serious threat to the future of the Head, however, is erosion of the exposed southern cliff face, more from wind and rain as from the sea.

The Quarry Pool is now a significant part of the nature reserve features of the Head. While it was very acidic in the early years, since 1990 it has allowed the growth of a significant number of plant and insect species, as well as mallard
Mallard
The Mallard , or Wild Duck , is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia....

 and little grebe
Little Grebe
The Little Grebe , also known as Dabchick, member of the grebe family of water birds. At 23 to 29 cm in length it is the smallest European member of its family. It is commonly found in open bodies of water across most of its range.-Description:The Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed...

. The insects provide valuable food for migrating martins and swallow
Swallow
The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding...

s.

Due to the dense bracken
Bracken
Bracken are several species of large, coarse ferns of the genus Pteridium. Ferns are vascular plants that have alternating generations, large plants that produce spores and small plants that produce sex cells . Brackens are in the family Dennstaedtiaceae, which are noted for their large, highly...

 and grass on many parts it has suffered several severe fires in the past decade. Care must be taken not to leave glass bottles lying on the ground and to dispose of cigarettes carefully, especially in summer months. Luckily the ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 is quick to heal itself so evidence of this is not easily found.

Fauna


The fields and reserved areas near the car park provide an ideal spot to watch and listen to a significant population of skylark
Skylark
The Skylark is a small passerine bird species. This lark breeds across most of Europe and Asia and in the mountains of north Africa. It is mainly resident in the west of its range, but eastern populations are more migratory, moving further south in winter. Even in the milder west of its range,...

s during the summer months.

External links


Images



Views from various parts of Hengistbury Head or nearby.