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Iron Age Hillforts in Britain and Beyond$
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Dennis Harding

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695249

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199695249.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 August 2021

Anatomy of Hillfort Enclosure

Anatomy of Hillfort Enclosure

(p.53) 3 Anatomy of Hillfort Enclosure
Iron Age Hillforts in Britain and Beyond

Dennis Harding

Oxford University Press

The most conspicuous element of a hillfort is generally its perimeter works, whether rubble wall or degraded bank and ditch. Their excavation in cross-section is a means of disclosing the structural sequence, which need not correspond to the occupational sequence of the site. The next most notable feature of the enclosure is its entrance, marked by a gap or inturn in the wall or bank, and a natural causeway across the ditch. Many hillforts are the product of a complex structural sequence, reflecting successive periods of occupation and building activity. Their perimeter works may range from relatively simple palisaded enclosures to more elaborate double or multiple earthworks that may occupy as great an area as that enclosed. Though a succession of occupational phases may result in progressive enhancement of the enclosing earthworks in both scale and complexity, it would be facile to assume a progression through time from the simplest form of construction to the most elaborate. There is no a priori reason why any given configuration, univallate rampart, bivallate, or multivallate, or method of construction, palisade, wall rampart, dump rampart, could not have been chosen at any given stage of a site's use. Though there are instances where a palisaded enclosure has been superseded by a timber-framed box rampart fronted by a ditch and subsequently by a dump rampart created by enlarging and deepening the ditch, in principle there is no reason why simple dump or glacis ramparts should not have been as early as or earlier than more elaborately constructed timber-framed ramparts, being less demanding of resources and requiring no greater manpower or effort to build. In practice, however, it would be difficult to replace a dump rampart, or a timber-framed rampart that had fallen into disrepair, with a timber-framed structure without labour-intensive clearance, because of the problems presented by the horizontal ties. This doubtless accounts for the apparent absence of horizontals from rampart B at Cadbury Castle (Alcock 1972), as a result of which the structure was fatally weakened. The only practical option would be to clear out and enlarge the ditch to create a heightened dump over the debris of the earlier wall.

Keywords:   alliances, bastions, chevaux-de-frise, henge monuments, kinship, metrology, oblong forts, promontory forts, stoning

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