This website of 100 pages, and links to dozens more sites and sources across the web, that you can see below this blurb, is a salute to, information source, and fan site on hillforts. I like many people am also a fan of castles, which are well celebrated in modern society, in terms of both history teaching, and popular culture. I think though hillforts deserve a attempt at a glorification of them as well.
Here I try to conjure up a vision of the time of hillforts. What I think it is fair to call the "Land of Hillforts". These structures are well known to many, but I believe not grasped enough into fiction, and culture which I believe is a loss.
Historical fiction is something that even the most non-historically minded people often love, so why not use these in culture as well. Those of us who love history, could also meanwhile if we like, appreciate these great landmarks in that context as well. This is all likely as castles have so much of what they were still standing, while hillforts are often now barren, grass or tree covered relatively desolate structures. Still of note and fascination to many of us, but not as on the nose in terms of appearances. I believe though those of us who like hillforts, like pondering what they were about, and maybe to a extent enjoy the enigma, to do with them. Furthermore they do not just attract interest via the way they look, re positioned and are today. With a little bit of knowledge about the structures, we learn that these structures were in their own way, as dramatic and fascinating as castles. Castles are a great vehicle to imagining the world of the Middle Ages, both of the rulers, and the populace as a whole, and I believe that hillforts are the same for the Iron Age in Western Europe.
Within this key element to my thinking, when you see what archaeologists and historians have discovered about them, and more importantly the culture and society of the time you move from a enigma to a civilisation or even world, of it's own that deserves respect and some awe.
So then the subject moves from enigmatic, to a Tolkeinesque (This work by the way has no relation to his works or estate) land, that compares favourably to some of the best fantasy fiction about such imagined pre-industrialised worlds and lands, that grab so many people's attention. The excavations, chance discoveries, and varied historical sources have found a ancient society that was a rich vibrant culture that to some extent with many others lands and eras helped inspire that wonderful fantasy fiction genre, so popular today. With that knowledge of the hillforts and the enigmatic era it should not be hard to conjure up the drama, and splendour, and real hard everyday truth, relatable to people today, and surely as dramatic and full of adventure and excitement as again those works of fantasy fiction.
This site is really a attempt to shine a light on these structures, glory and storify them
Hillforts in their day would not have just been the simple, dull to some, but fascinatingly enigmatic, and imagination stirring to some of us, weathered grassy earthworks of today. Some would have well-kept walls, and very many would also have wooden stockades along with revetments on top, like a US wooden fort in 19th Century Indian Territory. A difference being except with even more intimidating and protected entrances. Some of whom I heard once had animal skulls aside the entrances, maybe not for all, but a intimidatingly cool possibility. Some in cases used more a rubble stone wall for on top of ramparts, and many if they could use natural geographic features like slopes, and cliff edges, as part of their defences.
There are 3 main aims of this website,
1 To talk up my interest, and to examine, show my studies, and display what I have seen of hillforts in my time of investigating their subject. Mentioning what I feel are the key qualities in each general subject matter.
2 To advertise the book I have written, a work of fiction on the subject, which I did for my own fun.
3 As mild side story, to the pages I have about hillforts on this site, I will also a add a few pages on other subjects as well. It is a good hobby for me, for a while, and I shall see how it goes.
THE Articles on hillforts
and landscape of the Iron Age
Sometimes you have to press enter/ return key, on your keyboard on the address bar to go to a page after you pressed on it.
Year this website was started
Number of hillforts in Britain and Ireland, according to a 2020 study, though this figure depends on definition
The time hilforts were well utilised in Western Europe
The number of oppida in Western Europe before Roman conquest
So it is with your own head, if you take anything I have written here about hillforts, and use it somewhere else. I take no responsibility. By the way do not read in between the lines there, I am just protecting myself there, and I do make my utmost to make sure the facts on this site are correct, not that that means I can at all be perfect I am sure I have errors, so it best to see other sites and books for resources on their own, or even with my little site as a extra. As I feel my site does provide a purpose, which is a attempt to dramatise and glorify the eras, of the hillforts and such. As lets face it, history and archaeology are now sciences, which is a good thing, and to a small regard they are limited to being allowed to do certain flights of fancy, that hobbyists can. I also feel this site has the aspect, not that I am saying I am, or not, the trainspotter element of hillforts (Trainspotter a fellow who obsessively studies minutiae of a minority interest or specialized hobby.) . This in the sense, of the way everybody in the world, however much they deny, is to some extent a trainspotter on some subject in some way. Again this is not something a professional historian or archaeologist can easily, and often should be, as it is too general and vague at times for these essential experts. So again this website picks up that role as well. Yes there are some sites which verge on this, but they are more so scientific journals, than hobbyist. I mean historians and archaeologists do make fun speculations, and inteligent theories, which is how we have so many great imaginings of what past eras were like, and thus debate a whole range of ideas, and possible stories, and reasonings about the past, but I can add to that with this site.
I am blowing my own trumpet there, but I think it is a fair vision.
Links to other
websites on hillforts
Hillforts and castles, plus my directory quite comprehensive "Hillfort links page" on dozens of pages, sites, videos, and sources across the web, on hillforts and this subject - but with the key ones, below on this Home page here
Disclaimer, these links were accurate in January 2021, I take no responsibility for anything on links to outside of my site, I better say that as I see the top sites do.
Wikipedia's page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillfort
English Heritage https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
Cadw, the Welsh heritage agency
Canmore - Lots of historical things here, that also go into hillforts, in Scotland,
Website on the Rhynie area, where Tap o'Noth is,
Coflein a website that talks of a lot of historic and pre historic things, including hillforts, in Wales, quite detailed, in terms of pictures,
Megalithic Portal, a great database of hillforts, and local pre historic structures, I normally type a hillfort site's address, and this website, to find,
New Zealand's Hillforts, in Wikipedia,
A advert for a T Shirt to do with hillforts I have helped with, and benefit in terms of sales of
Hillforts of the Clwydian Range
The pictures on this page, are in order, from top to bottom, and if they are by each other, left to right.
1 My picture of Tre'r Ceiri, nobody can use that pictures without my permission, 2 Engraving of Cadbury Castle, drawn in 1723 by William Stukeley and captioned "Prospect of Camalet Castle" I found that on Wikipedia Public Domain. 3 A pic by me from Caer Drewyn Hillfort, near Corwen, inland North Wales. Looking from the ancient walls here, nobody can use this picture without my permission, more on this site on other pages, but it is a Iron Age hillfort. 4 A pic I took of Burnswark Hillfort, southern Scotland, near Gretna, nobody can use it without my permission. 5 A picture I found on Wikimedia Commons, Gate Pā after its evacuation on 30 April, based on a sketch by Lieutenant Gordon Robley, Created: 1 January 1864. New Zealand's Maori Pa sites, had strong similarities to hillforts so I show them here symbolising the most modern equivalents of hillforts, in picture form. 6 Then to the right of there some of the eastern ramparts of Penycloddiau, again a picture from me so you would need permission for me to use it. This the largest hillfort by area in Wales, and sits on the Clwydian hills, a north south hill range, notable for it's long line of hillforts. You can see why the term in for it in Welsh, is actually translated into English as the Hill of ditches. 7 A map I found on Wikimedia commons of where certain hillforts are in Britain indicating the plenitude, and numerousness of forts in Britain, though for any map like this it depends on what you regard as a hillfort, most also include promontory forts, as I do, but some wonder if some smaller sites should not be counted in the category, which is a debatable point. 8 A composite of a public domain picture of a hillfort, depiction I adapted so it is now my pic, plus a public domain picture of some Celtic Soldiers, so now it can only be used as this adapted version with my permission. I have to admit the Celtic soldiers costumes were early 20th Century imaginings, so they may are not fitting totally with modern views, but it is better than nothing. 9 A picture I took from the hillfort above Holyhead, of it's ancient walls, looking down on the sea. 10 The final picture on this page. Well there are no pictures of Iron Age hillforts, I know of from the times they were in action. There are descriptions of a sort, in Roman literature of the time, and to a extent from the Irish Myths from the Dark Ages. What I see as a similar site is what is depicted on Trajan's Column, When the Roman army with great planning and fortitude conquered Romania's Dacians, with during their battles them facing upon Barbarian hill top settlements. Well their attacks are commemorated on Trajan's Column, built on order of the said Emperor in 107-113AD. The Dacian sites must have had some similarities to hillforts, although they were economically a more advanced society than Britain's Celtic tribes of the time, them being near the economic centre of the world at the time. Not that Britain's Celts were not of some level of advancement in their own way. So this scene could be said to have some similarities to a attack on kind of some hillforts, but maybe more so, the Iron Age French Oppida, which were the kind of more advanced giant versions of hillforts, at their largest on the continent. There would be some similarities to some hillforts in Britain, and therefore all, as they all shared to some extent a common set of origins, I would say. The statement in Wikimedia Commons is, The advance-guard in action (scene LXX); storming of a Dacian fortress (scene LXXI), Conrad Cichorius, 1896 plates.