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MAIDEN CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  DUNIUM
DESCRIPTION + /

Maiden Castle, known primarily for its Iron Age hillfort, which is one of the largest and most complex in Europe; the site includes other multi-period remains on a chalk hilltop of the South Dorset Downs. The earliest features to be identified include a group of pits associated with Early Neolithic flint working, dating to around 4000 BC. A causewayed enclosure was built soon after, on the eastern plateau, which may have contained a long barrow and is associated with two infant burials. The Iron Age hillfort overlies this enclosure. In around 3500 BC, after the enclosure had fallen out of use, a bank barrow was constructed, part of which overlies the western end of the enclosure. In the Later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods two barrows and a small enclosure were constructed. There are believed to be three main phases for the Iron Age occupation of the site. Initially, in the Early Iron Age, it was a univallate hillfort, defined by a single rampart enclosing only the eastern end of the hill. During the second half of the 3rd century BC the ramparts were extended to the west and during the mid-2nd century BC the ramparts were rebuilt on a larger scale. The ramparts of the later multivallate hillfort consisted of three banks and two ditches around the hilltop, with an extra bank and ditch to the south, and two complex entrances. The interior of the fort was intensively occupied. Excavation revealed traces of circular and rectangular huts evident from post holes, trenches and floor remains, as well as over 50 human burials, many within a cemetery at the eastern end of the site. Occupation of the hilltop declined following the Roman Conquest, but a Romano-Celtic temple was built at the eastern end of the fort, during the 4th century AD. During the post-Roman period the site was used to graze stock; dewponds were constructed to provide water. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.