Hod Hill

Hod Hill

Overview
Hod Hill is a large hill fort
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...

 in the Blackmore Vale
Blackmore Vale
The Blackmore Vale is a vale, or wide valley, in north Dorset, and to a lesser extent south Somerset and southwest Wiltshire in southern England. The vale is part of the Stour valley...

, 3 miles (5 km) north-west of Blandford Forum, 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...

, England. The fort sits on a 150 m (492.1 ft) chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 hill that is detached from the Dorset Downs
Dorset Downs
The Dorset Downs are an area of Chalk downland in the centre of the county Dorset in south west England. The downs are the most western part of a larger Chalk Formation which also includes Cranborne Chase, Salisbury Plain, Hampshire Downs, Chiltern Hills, North Downs and South Downs.The Dorset...

 and Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase is a Chalk plateau in central southern England, straddling the counties Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain and the West Wiltshire Downs in the north, the Dorset Downs to the south west and the...

. The hill fort at Hambledon Hill
Hambledon Hill
Hambledon Hill is a prehistoric hill fort in Dorset, England, situated in the Blackmore Vale five miles north of Blandford Forum. The hill is a Chalk outcrop, on the south western corner of Cranborne Chase, separated from the Dorset Downs by the River Stour....

 is just to the north.

The fort is roughly rectangular (600 by), with an enclosed area of 22 ha (54.4 acre). There is a steep natural slope down to the River Stour
River Stour, Dorset
The River Stour is a 60.5 mile long river which flows through Wiltshire and Dorset in southern England, and drains into the English Channel. It is sometimes called the Dorset Stour to distinguish it from rivers of the same name...

 to the west, the other sides have an artificial rampart
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

, ditch and counterscarp
Counterscarp
A scarp and a counterscarp are the inner and outer sides of a ditch used in fortifications. In permanent fortifications the scarp and counterscarp may be encased in stone...

 (outer bank), with an additional rampart on the north side.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Hod Hill'
Start a new discussion about 'Hod Hill'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Hod Hill is a large hill fort
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...

 in the Blackmore Vale
Blackmore Vale
The Blackmore Vale is a vale, or wide valley, in north Dorset, and to a lesser extent south Somerset and southwest Wiltshire in southern England. The vale is part of the Stour valley...

, 3 miles (5 km) north-west of Blandford Forum, 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...

, England. The fort sits on a 150 m (492.1 ft) chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 hill that is detached from the Dorset Downs
Dorset Downs
The Dorset Downs are an area of Chalk downland in the centre of the county Dorset in south west England. The downs are the most western part of a larger Chalk Formation which also includes Cranborne Chase, Salisbury Plain, Hampshire Downs, Chiltern Hills, North Downs and South Downs.The Dorset...

 and Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase is a Chalk plateau in central southern England, straddling the counties Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain and the West Wiltshire Downs in the north, the Dorset Downs to the south west and the...

. The hill fort at Hambledon Hill
Hambledon Hill
Hambledon Hill is a prehistoric hill fort in Dorset, England, situated in the Blackmore Vale five miles north of Blandford Forum. The hill is a Chalk outcrop, on the south western corner of Cranborne Chase, separated from the Dorset Downs by the River Stour....

 is just to the north.

The fort is roughly rectangular (600 by), with an enclosed area of 22 ha (54.4 acre). There is a steep natural slope down to the River Stour
River Stour, Dorset
The River Stour is a 60.5 mile long river which flows through Wiltshire and Dorset in southern England, and drains into the English Channel. It is sometimes called the Dorset Stour to distinguish it from rivers of the same name...

 to the west, the other sides have an artificial rampart
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

, ditch and counterscarp
Counterscarp
A scarp and a counterscarp are the inner and outer sides of a ditch used in fortifications. In permanent fortifications the scarp and counterscarp may be encased in stone...

 (outer bank), with an additional rampart on the north side. The main entrance is at the south-east corner, with other openings at the south-west and north-east corners.
The hill was fortified by the Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic Durotriges
Durotriges
The Durotriges were one of the Celtic tribes living in Britain prior to the Roman invasion. The tribe lived in modern Dorset, south Wiltshire and south Somerset...

 in 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...

. Radiocarbon analysis suggests a date of 500 BC for the main rampart. There is extensive evidence of settlement within the fort, including platforms for roundhouse
Roundhouse (dwelling)
The roundhouse is a type of house with a circular plan, originally built in western Europe before the Roman occupation using walls made either of stone or of wooden posts joined by wattle-and-daub panels and a conical thatched roof. Roundhouses ranged in size from less than 5m in diameter to over 15m...

 huts.

The hill was captured in AD 43 by the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 Second Legion (Augusta)
Legio II Augusta
Legio secunda Augusta , was a Roman legion, levied by Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus in 43 BC, and still operative in Britannia in the 4th century...

, led by Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, who had already captured 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...

 and other hill forts to the south. Eleven iron ballista
Ballista
The ballista , plural ballistae, was an ancient missile weapon which launched a large projectile at a distant target....

 bolts have been found on the hill, clustered in the so-called "Chieftain's hut" area (two hut circles, one of which had an enclosure around it) but there are no other signs of a struggle, suggesting the Durotriges surrendered to the superior Roman army.

The Romans built a camp
Castra
The Latin word castra, with its singular castrum, was used by the ancient Romans to mean buildings or plots of land reserved to or constructed for use as a military defensive position. The word appears in both Oscan and Umbrian as well as in Latin. It may have descended from Indo-European to Italic...

 (200 m² (2,152.8 sq ft)) in the north-west corner of the original fort, occupied by a mixed force of 720 legionaries
Legionary
The Roman legionary was a professional soldier of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Legionaries had to be Roman citizens under the age of 45. They enlisted in a legion for twenty-five years of service, a change from the early practice of enlisting only for a campaign...

 and auxiliaries
Auxiliaries (Roman military)
Auxiliaries formed the standing non-citizen corps of the Roman army of the Principate , alongside the citizen legions...

. The fort was used as a base for about 5 or 6 years, but passed out of use by about AD 50, when troops were withdrawn for the campaigns against Caractacus in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, and the remaining men were moved to a new fort further west at Waddon Hill
Waddon Hill
Waddon Hill is a hill and the site of an old Roman fort near Beaminster, in the English county of Dorset. The name Waddon is from the Old English meaning wheat hill....

.

The site was excavated in the 1950s by Sir Ian Richmond and his final report was published in 1969. Today the hill is an important calcareous grassland
Calcareous grassland
Calcareous grassland is an ecosystem associated with thin basic soil, such as that on chalk and limestone downland. Plants on calcareous grassland are typically short and hardy, and include grasses and herbs such as clover...

 habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

.

Sources

  • Castles from the air, Roly Smith (2000), in The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

    .
  • The Making Of The Dorset Landscape, Christopher Taylor, Hodder & Stoughton (London 1970).
  • Dorset and the Second Legion, Norman Field (1992), ISBN 1-871164-11-7. Contains a hand-drawn, plan-view illustration of the site on page 67.