Oppida and Castros,

the Iron Age hillforts

of Continental Europe,

and other such similar citadels

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So there is no doubt that British and Irish hillforts are very strongly connected to the cultural origins of similar structures in Europe. Whether by a kind of cultural osmosis, or migration, or just competition, is not firmly known, but certainly there must have been all 3 of those to some extent. What is for sure is the structures in Western Europe are the closest brothers and sisters to the Iron Age citadels of the British Isles. There are many classic type hillforts in Europe, from the era, sitting atop a hills, and also the typical promontory forts, like what you find in Brittany, as in more using the coast and it's cliffs, than even adding their manmade touches. Such as ramparts protecting a peninsula from attacks coming from the main area of land that the fort is connected to. Indeed though in France and Germany there are the mighty oppida. Some are mentioned by Caesar in his writings on his wars, and we get an idea of battles his Romans fought against the Gauls, when up against these oppida.

 

The Iron Age is when these structures got going, though there were equivalents in the late Bronze Age. More importantly it is felt the structures were built by the various tribes termed people the Celts. I feel most of the spread of the idea of hillforts, was by a kind of cultural osmosis, via trade, and competition. There have been theories it may have been elites conquering other elites, then spreading the idea, or even mass population movements, and although that must have occurred to some extent, and is a reason for material change in lands in some times in history, it is more likely it was about the idea spreading, not the people who used them, than anything else. As shown by a look at the DNA evidence of the time, showing the populations were not being displaced on mass during the era.

I myself had a problem realising which was plural, out of Oppida and Oppidum, but a good way to remember is the term, the Oppidum of Manching, a great Celtic hillfort in Germany. 

 

So the Celts is a term the Romans used to describe tribes such as France's Gauls, and from this later historians have used it to describe a number of societies including the Gauls and the ancient Britons of England Wales, and Scotland. Some historians get annoyed with the term being used, thinking as it is now applied to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, iit has become misleading. Though I see it as a term which makes sense, after all the Gauls and British had similar cultures, and the languages used by the Gauls and British Celts were similar. Also to a extent the Scots, Welsh and Irish can claim some continuity with the term Celts, which yes the English and French can, but a bit less. It is likely the Celts were just a fusion of some migrants from Europe, but mostly the people who were in Britain and Gaul, before Iron, and hillforts started expanding across the map of Western Europe.

 

 

In this, there are hillfort style structures across Gaul, and parts of Western Europe. Though what is most spectacular are the oppida. The largest British hillforts would be imperious and impressive sites, such as the magnificent Maiden Castle, at it's prime, and those estimated to have held 1,000 people would as I say be fantastic sites.

 

Meanwhile the largest oppida in France and Germany, were even a few centuries before Rome took Britain, across the era, in quite a number of examples, double or even a few times larger than even Maiden Castle, in population. With some possibly even larger than that. They were often the centres of major trade routes across Europe, between the Danube or Rhine, the Senne or the Rhone, or Baltic Amber trade routes and such.

 

In addition such places would even be engines for economic growth and development. Therefore they did not just cover a larger area, but had greater levels of technology in many cases as well. Some of them would have seemed like a mega city compared to many of the forts in Britain at the time, and just like hillforts many experienced battles and conflict. The groups which held these included the Gauls who covered most of France, and parts of Western Germany. Plus the Belgae to their north, and some other related Celtic tribes stretching to the Czech Republic, such as the Boli. The fact some of these forts stretch back a few centuries before the birth of Jesus, means the Celtic Iron Age hillfort era had a very long history of a society that could be delved into for stories. Looking at the art they created as well, from the weapons, and art pieces they created, you see a society rich in culture and variety, that really needs delving into, as I do in my story., when it visits Gaul Indeed also there in Germany there was the Oppidum of Manching, a fort of thousands of people, which had for example a cult tree, a wooden trunk, covered in gold leaf, with bronze leaves indicating the effort at sublime art. More importantly in terms of fort structures the European forts at times had more rigid walls, than the often rubble built and dry stone walling designs of Britain and Ireland, which were good but not as strong as these more rigid types. I mention more of that later. Also the entrances were sometimes immense, like at Bibracte, the monumental gate was 20 metres wide, and 40 metres deep, surely bigger than some fortified communities. For a oppidum that could house thousands of people, a monumental entrance was useful for trade and impressing people. Experts have decided there were huge defences above them, where those coming into the fort would have to passage through a well-protected gateway, way above on each side, where likely dozens of people could pass in and out at a time. Though in times of trouble defences could easily be placed along these weak spots, and the deep ditches, or mighty walls, encircling the settlement put into force. I should say that as well as France and Western Germany, well Belgium, Luxembourg, and the extreme south of the Netherlands had oppida or hillfort style Celtic sites. Not all oppida are just giant hillforts, some are flatter terrains, but it deserves a mention. Sites such as Titelberg in Luxembourg, and the variously named  Caestert, Kanne Caster, and Mount St Peter, in Eastern Belgium, Wallonia, can fairly be called hillforts. The latter may have been the site of battles with Roman forces in Belgium. That is just speculation though there. 

There is also some evidence that there were large battles between Celtic tribes before the Romans. For instance the huge Celtic army that spread South east through Europe that met the Greeks in the 279 BC, which was recorded by history. There is some evidence of some large oppida being violently attacked, even in pre history, such as the huge site of Heuneburg, in southern Germany which seems to have been destroyed before a rebuilding in six hundred BC. This all shows the needs for such defensive structures, and looking at the story of wars, in classical history across all continents it does seem likely that some of the huge as well as small sites encountered attacks, fought off sometimes, and surrendered to others. Though for sure some may never have experienced a violent attack, and some may have been for most of the time, very much in peace, other than sending the odd warband out as part of an army and such, So a amazing again Tolkien style lost history, of forgotten tribes and identities. Not that life was just about war, there was also glorious art, and more importantly normal every day life, especially for the mass of the population, which like everywhere, would be a peasant or serf or somewhat akin to that life. With the odd trader, or smith, or warrior and such added in. So a story of amazingness and wonder.  Indeed some have even noticed some sites like Bibracte still had festivals held there in the Middle Ages, which may have been heirs of the previous Celtic culture, for sure elements of the culture must have survived, though heavily diluted by Frankish and Roman influences and such. So brilliant there.

 

In addition to this, we can also see the castros of Spain. These structures were similar to many forts in Britain but had a number of noticeably different styles. The culture and art of the period indicate strong similarities with the Celts and you could term these Celtic societies as well. What is for sure some North Western Spanish regions actually claim some Celtic identity. Some of the structures today still have stone foundations within the hilltop and coastal sites. You can imagine a more parched in Summer landscape, but still as full of wildlife, amid trees, and vultures, in a society that had strong similarities in terms of material culture, and types of Gods they worshipped, to Britain.

The castros seem to have started in the 6th Century BC, with a boom in the 2nd Century BC, during increasing Roman and Greek trading influences. With interestingly, many researchers seeing signs of destruction in the time the Romans took Iberia. They also historically surrounded by stone walls, ditches or earthen ramparts, often in areas well protected by nature like peninsulas and heights. Indeed some structures were actually occupied through Rome’s control, and some claim evidence of some attacked right at the end of their era by Barbarian tribes.

Examples include Castro de Barona. A small complex of 20 roundhouses, protected by walls on a small peninsula, with a moat to one side. With many more on high hills, such as Castro de Santa Tecla. Or like one 379 metres in altitude, of which some are later claimed as the site of the last battle of the Galicians before their unfortunate, mass suicides, in fear of the advancing Roman Legions. Sad, considering there is so much for people to live for, but at least we can be happy, that most of them from the evidence I see, had nice lives before then. With the dwellers, living the likewise to the North Western European Celts, a lifestyle of farming crops, like oats, barley, millet, chickpeas and cabbages, and livestock like sheep and cattle. With the addition of hunting wild boar, in the green sunny forests, and gathering wild fruits and acorns. This all below gliding scraggy looking vultures high in the sky, who are viewing in their pupils, their beautiful stone structures from above. Like Britain there were many of different sizes, indeed as you can see on my fun facts page, Galicia, had a example which, sits on a mount, and is 20 hectares or so in size. so pretty much a hillfort. With of course there being large, or grande examples, and small or medium sizes types, just as you get for Britain's examples. 

It is also said, that along with similar traditions of torc wearing leaders, and a peasants citadel focalised culture. That they worship these strange half human gods, with animal elements to them, of shape changing, and believe there are gods in the trees and rivers, and nature. So again not that different to the Celts of North West Europe. Not surprising since many experts feel the pantheon of Gods for Celts, Germans, Greeks, and even as far as India have similar varieties and basis, though many differences as well it must be said. Another fine castro site is Castro de Carcoda ou Carcola

Hillforts in Portugal, include Castro do Lesenho, which is a hillfort that sits upon a 1078 metre high hill, in the Boticas area. It is large, and has statues of Gala-Roman Warriors. 

Also there is the Castro de São Lourenço, which I saw has had lovely reconstructions of the roundhouses it had. It is from the 4th Century BC and later. It views across the Atlantic. 

Also there is the Cividade de Terroso, it was part of the urbanisation of this part of Iberia. It is felt this site was destroyed by the empire of Rome. There was a exmple the castle of Cola, which was a Iron Age Castro, and even used by the Arabs when they were in Portugal. Other sites such as Castle de Balsamão, or Castle of Balsamão in Portugal, were also once fortified Iron Age sites, then later became sites of Medieval Portugal.

 

It has to be said, the idea that there were simply Celts and non-Celts is  a over simplification. Current estimates claim much of Western Europe's people came into Europe absorbing local populations a millennia or so before the Iron Age, with what is known as the Beaker People, named after the vessels they had with them. (With the possible exception of the Basques, who survived from before their arrival). These populations would have become localised, not just to the level of Wales, but likely at times more localised than that. But to a extent they would  not just keep to groups we later defined as Celts. This is shown by how there are similarities to what we term the Celts to other groups across Europe, even to the early Romans, and groups from the Balkans and Eastern Europe. In keeping with this of course the Romans, and such mixed in terms of trade and many other ways with groups to the east and south, learning their skills, cultures and other aspects of their lives,

 

 

This is why you can say some of the Balkan forts of some tribes there, north of the Greeks could be termed hillforts or oppida. The great Dacian fortresses, may be closer to fortified hill top towns in their descriptions, but could also be seen to have similarities to oppida, and hillforts. These of course portrayed in Trajan's column in the Roma era, a structure surviving today.

 

 

It is certain that castles, and walled towns replaced hillforts for a variety of reasons across Europe, despite a small regrowth of some in the post Roman era in Europe, but it does not seem to have reached level that occurred in western once Roman Britain.

 

It must also be said that in the south of Spain there were oppida like structures as well, indeed some were very much towns, even before the Romans. Some as of the influence of Carthage. It is felt the great site of Toledo, in central Spain, was likely such a site, and that it became a great site even into the Medieval era. Today it's greatness is now still preserved not far from Madrid. Carthage supposedly led southern Iberian trade such as via Cartagena, and Rome, more Gaulish trade, but that is just a general theory, and they did this from afar in the main. Which would mean that trade coming down west France, would go via Carthage, and via the centre, via Massalia near modern Marseille. With grapes and wine becoming greatly used in France during Rome, and better cultivated, the forerunner, of France's famous wine vineyards.

Even Italy had some of these Celtic oppida, with a Etruscan town turned into a Celtic capital for a while before Italian cultures retook it. Few sites in Italy are termed hillforts, but some sites in southern Italy such as Botromagno, were used like a Iron Age hillfort of a this not Celtic group, before the Romans conquered all Italia. ​Surely there would be equivalents of hillforts here, not specially of Celtic cultures, but before towns, then they were a good idea, even for much of the rest of Italy. Though of course Italy saw towns and cities develop faster than Northern Europe. 

Switzerland being the site of La Tene, the archaeological site which gave the name to a era of the Irin Age in Western Europe. Also has it's hillforts and Oppida. Such as Uetilberg, not that far from Zurich.  It sits 873 metres abive sea level, in this mountainous land. It was occupied from the 5th Century BC, and likely was used by the Helvetti just before the Romans came in, during the 1st Century BC. Another site of Iron Age lineage, is Mont-Terri Castle, which  sits in Jura, West Switzerland. It was used in the 1st Century BC, and some link it to the Gallic wars indeed locals even called it Julius Caesar's Camp, when it is likely Celtic. It was likely used again in the Dark Ages, and then became a medieval castle. It now sits on a wooded hilltop. 

Also further to the east, Austria, Hungary the Czech Republic and also Slovakia had Iron Age hillfort sites. I mention some of these sites below, describing my pictures. Also though, Sandberg in Lower Austria, was a Celtic settlement, not regarded as a hillfort, but there is the site of Stillfried in eastern Austria as well. It has seen examination in relation to rituals, cereal production, and it's axis point on the Amber Road. So a bit like Devin Castle, which I mention below for Slovakia, which was also a major location on a trade route. On top of the Celtic hillforts that I mention below, the Czechs to some extent regard some of the sites built in the 9th and 10th Century in central Bohemia, as hillforts, indeed a network of the, protected this Slavic nation state in it's early days. Sites such as Libusin, a 9th Century fort, seen as central to the Czech defences at that time. Just showing as I say below, that these hillfort sites very much suited the geography and nature of conflicts in these Central European lands, in certain places. As I say I mention more on Czech and Slovak forts below. 

Both Belgrade and Budapest have claims that their sites were founded as de facto hillforts by Celtic forebears. Though of course earlier and later groups must have played a great part as well. Hungary uses the term Földvár, for hillfort, That includes the Bronze Ahge site of Százhalombatta, which on a hilltop dominated a setting over the wide blue Danube, It does not seem to have progressed into the Iron Age. Also in South West Hungary there was what is referred to as  celtoic Castle on Jacob's Hill. It was the key sites in the area afore the Romans, and seems to have been in use in 750 AD, 350 AD, and then abandoned in the 1st Century AD.  It had  6 to 10 metre high stone and earth walls surrounding it. It is felt the site's people would have been moved out by the Romans. 

The Croatian land mass, also sees there were hillforts used by the Illyrian peoples, the Illyrian peoples the not Celtic,Tariotes and Liburnians, in the 1st Millennium BC, It seems they were used to control, trade and local areas, Both groups were mentioned by the Romans, who eventually conquered their lands. Slovenia also has hillforts such as Kučar. Not surprisingly, Montenegro with a site at Kotor St John Castle, and Albania, with Zgërdhesh hill-fort, have similar situations where hillforts  Also Bosnia, had Daorsan sites, a also not Celtic group, that had similar ways to hillforts, but were more like what the Dacians had, as in more a different type of society. Of course we know the Romanians had Dacia, whose great sites of hillforts were more like Rome's cities, though at times were on great hill tops, so like hillforts and oppida. Such as Sarmizegetusa Regia. Bulgaria is the site of a Celtic hillfort, at Veliko Tarnovo. I have said somewhere here, the Acropolis, was once a hillfort, so Greece and it's Ancient people had these type structures, and of course, had this idea as well, such as Derbend castle, but hillforts like this in Turkey would have existed in prioer millennia, never mind centuries, before Celtic hillforts, as the idea is such a good one. I have not seen a indication San Marino, or Andorra had hillforts even though they are so high, or even Liechtenstein, and of course Monaco is too close by the sea for proper hillforts I think. 

Other great example of hillforts include what occurred in Scandinavia in the later 1st and earlier 2nd millennium, when in a not that connected to Celtic society, way, the Swedes, and Norwegians had hillfort style structures. Though castles soon replaced them after that. It has been said there are 1100 hillforts in Sweden alone, especially on the west coast, Norway has 400, and Denmark twenty six. Finland, also has some estimated to be about a hundred, of which Rapola Castle, is the largest  and it seems to have been in use during the 13th and fifteenth centuries in defending against the Swedes, and Russia's Novgorodians, it was about half as long as Maiden Castle so is of a reasonable size. Some hillforts extend into Northern Russia. It seems, Finland has forts that were once by the sea, but as of uplift of the land after affects of the Ice Age, they are now further inland,

Sweden's hillforts were there during a period of mass migrations in Europe, and it has some large ones. The largest in Scandinavia, is Halleburg, it is highly atypical as of it's immense size. It is a table mountain, which is naturally fortified by the steep slopes of the side. Then added to this, there are 1800 metres of ramparts, on the parts which need these, of which the longest is 700 metres long. The area enclosed, mostly by natural cliffs encloses a ginormous area of 7 square miles, which is 1812 hectares, so a area 100 times the size of Maiden Castle. This of course is not a hillfort, more a refuge area, with a dyke protecting it. It was used again in the Swedish Danish wars of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and a Russian war of the 18th Century, and was besieged for 7 years in a 1490s to fifteen ten conflict. A castle did end up being placed here, and it is reputed to be the site of Valhalla, where Odin dwelt. It is mainly from the 3rd Century.

The second largest is Lollands Österborg, Denmark, at 1.9 square miles,  from 550 AD, the Scandinavian Iron Age, again it was a refuge in times of troubles. The isle, which is not that many times bigger than the said site, actually neighbours isles, which also have such refuge sites in the time of the age of mass migrations.

The 3rd largest in Scandinavia, is the more normal sized Torsburgen on Gotland, at around 100 hectares, or Thor's castle. It again in use, the 1st to 12th Century. It could easily have been a refuge for all Gotland's 10,000 people of the time. Little research has been done on this site, but it is guessed 3000 men would take a year to build it, and 1000 could defend it's walls, that sit on this plateau. The rubble walls, still look pretty good today, and it sits well in local legends. In fact the 4th largest hillfort in Scandinavia, is also on Gotland, Grogarnsberget, at a quarter the size of Maiden Castle. So it is not the case Scandinavia has loads of giant hillforts, just a very good number. Of the 82 other forts on Gotland, I think mostly hillforts on Gotland, most are barely a tenth of a hectare, I wonder if this is the size of most Scandinavian hillforts. Gotland was a major trading centre in the Viking era, and Middle Ages.

The ones in Norway for example, have walls, and sit on rocky outcrops including sites known as bygdeborg, they are nowhere near as big as those sites mentioned as the largest in the peninsula, and were from similar periods. Many are covered in forests. In cases many sit where they need just a rampart, as slopes and rocks protect other sides. They are more common in the south east, and south. Some were on important traffic arteries, and some had palisades. The largest had wall lengths of several hundred metres. There are debates if they were refuges, or military garrisons, for protection or defence, or even aggressive conquest, or even ritual sites. They stopped being used by a century before 700. A example of a large one would be Rudskulen, which had room for about a 100 people to live. Likely a refuge for locals farms. Many area covered in forests, amid Norway's life, surely many area like that for Sweden. This was just before the Viking period.

 

It seems the Ukraine also had some hillfort, in the western forests. Plus also had one near Kiev. Such as the site of Khotiv Hillfort near Kiev. It was from the sixth century BC, and sits on a plateau, with 31 hectares surrounded by rampart. It seems to have traded with Classical civilisations, as shown by how a coin from Corinthian mints was found there from this early era. Buildings with indications of life were found, so many feel it was where Scythian lived, with pigs, cattle, and horses, goats and dogs. With the locals hunting beavers and aurochs. They were likely the Scythians termed tillers, different to the more horse using types, Herodotus mentions them. The ramparts were quite large, and the site was a major one.

The forest steppe hillforts had even more trade with the Greeks, and these forts were on the Black Sea forest steppe, and the Pontic. Just east of the Carpathians, and north of the Black Sea, with some extending towards Kiev. The ones in the west, had more Greek trade. Whether these sites were to protect from Scythian horsemen, or each other is a open question, There were some giant forts as mentioned across the area, but another good example would be Severynivka Hillfort. Unused Scythian arrowheads in the forts indicate either trade with them, or that they were farming Scythians.

Poland was not so much within the orbit or Celtic hillfort cultures, but there were some equivalents. For instance from just before the 7th Century, some Slavic fortifications that could be termed hillforts were developing, a very small number in the south, there may have been some before, but these were at their prime then.  Actually some even existed in the North East, like Mazovia, had for example Szeligi, while the west had for example Bonikowo. The ones from this era were not even a hectare in size. Then by a century larger ones existed, most were that small, and a bit bigger but some were as big as a few hectares, even in modern South West Poland, Silesia, and other parts of southern Poland, like at Krakov. Indeed Krakov Castle, one of the greatest in size in the world, is in the area of a great hillfort, that was large for the time in those days. Possibly this castle culture was started round then in a way. A Arab writer claimed Slavic fortresses in the 10th Century were only occupied during raids, which may be correct if the lack of finds within the sites from these times is true. Krakov has a mammoth bone there, which in legend is associated to a dragon slayed by one of it's forces so interesting legends, in a sense from just after Slavic hillfort times, just before Teutonic and Slavic castle times or kind of mixed into both. The forts were it seems of tribal territories within the Slavic groups, that later developed more fully into the national groupings that in the Middle Ages, became kingdoms, and later nation states in the EU. There were some spreading from modern Germany, to Belarus, of this culture, so likely not that far from Lithuania. Some feel as Belarus had similar structures a couple of centuries earlier, the hillfort idea for here came from there, but I am not sure if there was a the odd hillfort in southern Poland even in Celtic times.

Russia as I say has some elements of hillforts, some of Slavic, some of many other tradition, Indeed not only does the Kremlin have a argument about it being originally a hillfort, but Novgorod, the main rival as Russia's leading city states with Moscow, before it became prime of all the Russia's, was a scion of Rurikovo Gorodische, 2km from the modern city. Here there is a fort, more a low lying river side fort, that is seen as the beginning of Novgorod, in the time when the 2nd Millennium was about to begin, Then again many places have forts.

a scion of

The best evidence that the Celts idea of hillforts did not spread as I believe by a cultural osmosis, in the recorded story of the Gauls who settled in Turkey in the 3rd Century BC. These people brought their religion, and lived apart from the locals they conquered. They ruled as a warrior aristocracy, over a people who they let rule themselves for the most part. They were taken over by Rome, as a client state about 3 centuries later. It seems in the main they occupied cities that were already ancient, so whether they built special hillforts  i am unsure, but overtime they absorbed into the population. These Celts extended as far as Ankara, in central parts of Turkey, and were even mentioned in the Bible by apostles there.

I still believe most hillfort expansion was by cultural osmosis.

Possibly Iceland's Borgarvirki, was used as a fort by the Vikings, it is a natural volcanic feature that has natural defences surrounding it, overlooking plains below. It is uncertain if it was used as a fortress, but legends say it was, it rises 177 metres above sea level. I have not seen anything regards to the Faeroe Islands in terms of hillforts. 

 

More relevantly to hillforts really, Lithuania and to a extent Latvia had them too. Latvia seems to have had them from the Bronze Age to Iron Age, and more so from the 5th Century. With then also constant use of them in the era of after then of using them in defences against the Crusader knights of the Teutonic and Livonian order from Germany and other parts of Western Europe. Who saw all fall out of use in the 12th – 14th Centuries.

Indeed the same was true of Lithuania, who had massive wooden defences on there hillforts, defending against attacks, to the mid-14th century, helping this land stay pagan till then, hundreds of years after Poland and Russia had Christianised. With it in union with Poland becoming a major power as a more Christian union till the city state empire of Moscow led Russia’s growth into this area and Ukraine in the 17th-Century. A rivalry that had been coming from earlier, but continued onwards. The Lithuanian forts, like the Iron Age British ones, are now denuded, but covered in trees, and containing ramparts. They even though have one called the hill of crosses, Meškuičių seniūnija, which has been covered in Christian crosses and was seen as a site that was a symbol of defiance against Russian Imperial, then Soviet control.

Most Lithuanian hillforts, whose term is Piliakilnis in their language, could be termed mounds. Many were on mounds. Most to me look a similar size to Dinas Emrys, and were often round.         

Some have associations of local legends such as to great kings, and even to Pagan temples and brutal battles with the Crusaders, there are around 900 according to some estimates, but that may include later medieval castles. Some had castles built on later.

Some depictions of them, have a bit of the ring of modern Eastern European palaces about them. In terms of the architectural style. So they imagine Baltic, Slavic or Eastern European style rooves and such. If this were the case, it is a idyllic thought of a Baltic and Slavic style people and society  of forests, communities, and the round mounds, and many Pagan gods they worship defending strongly v the knights, but now some mythology continues, in legends, and even amid elements of the folk culture, organised and less so of today.

In terms of size they look Dinas Emrys size, but round, I reference it as I go on about hillforts in the British Isles in other pages of  this website hillforts.co.uk  

 

Also fortified hilltop sites were in use across Europe across history, Some even term the Acropolis a hillfort, for the period before it became the place where they put the mighty building and the statue of Athena that sat atop it. Indeed Greece to a extent must have had more citadels like this, and as time went on before even Persian attacks, centuries before Rome took Britain or Greece started city wall building for enlarging towns and cities. In one of the Athens' museums I did notice a model built of that hill, when it was a hillfort. Maybe more hillforts that became religious centres, like in Ireland's pre Christian times, started as military or political centres.

 

Some as I say even term Moscow's Kremlin's first site a similar site to a hillfort. Which would of course make it the most power powerful hillfort site in the world today. Though for many reasons they were not the same as those in Western Europe. You could say the Greek ones were, quite similar in design but from a different background, but of course they did have walled towns, and such develop before hillforts were at their prime in Britain.

 

I better add, my story that this website has the job of advertising, does mention, and enter into, as part of the adventure into continental Europe, mainly in part through their footsteps in Gaul.

 

Again I have some pics below of some example sites, and their descriptions. 

Devin Castle, Slovakia, from Bratislava
CASTRO~1.JPG
Bėliuoniu_pėliekalnis_Lithuanian_hillf
Oppidum from Celtic Europe drawn later.j
CAMPD'~1.JPG
Brastislava Castle from the bridge.JPG
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Mont Sant Michel public, France, Brittan
FROMTH~1.JPG
Rempart_de_l'oppidum_de_Castillon_(25_av
Bibracte_Porte_Rebout.jpg
Dornburg_Celtic_Oppidum_Hildegardisfelse

Before listing the picture descriptions on this site, here are some paragraphs in various language on hillforts in Europe, and such sites.

Here is a paragraph in Lithuanian on hillforts. Lietuvos piliakalniai buvo puikūs sviediniai, vykstant lietuvių genčių kovai su kryžiuočiais. Jie buvo naudojami XV amžiuje ir XX amžiuje vis dar buvo nepriklausomybės simboliai.
In French, 

L'oppida et l'oppidum français avant César étaient des sites fantastiques, atteignant parfois d'énormes populations. Je les considère comme des hillforts géants, des méga hillforts. C'étaient les centres de grandes tribus et même de confédérations, et une civilisation d'une grande complexité, toujours fière des Français aujourd'hui.
In German
Das deutsche Oppidum war eine der größten Stätten des prähistorischen Europas. Einige lebten in geschützten Pallisaden und Mauern, die Handelswege wie die Donau und den Rhein kontrollierten. In der Tat trug der Handel von baltischem und polnischem Bernstein im Süden zu boomenden klassischen Gesellschaften und anderen derartigen Produkten dazu bei, das Wachstum von innen zu stimulieren.
In Polish
Polska i Czechy są dziś nazywane narodami siostrzanymi, ale Polska ma znacznie mniej grodów niż bardziej celtycka historia Czechów, ale Polska ma Biskupin wenecję epoki żelaza, jak gigantyczna żurawina,
In Czech
Polska i Czechy są dziś nazywane narodami siostrzanymi, ale Polska ma znacznie mniej grodów niż bardziej celtycka historia Czechów, ale Polska ma Biskupin wenecję epoki żelaza, jak gigantyczny żuraw. Fajnym aspektem czeskich Celtów było to, że mieli monety o dziwnym kształcie, pokazujące ciekawość epoki.
In Spanish
Los Castros de España y Portugal son un aspecto de una cultura de estilo celta en Iberia, que aportan un clima más cálido al clima húmedo y ventoso de muchos fuertes británicos. Con los sitios capaces de evocar la imagen de los celtas allí, muestra cierto nivel de conexión en Europa occidental en ese momento, aunque el área tenía algunos elementos únicos.
In Portugueese
Os Castros da Espanha e Portugal são um aspecto de uma cultura de estilo celta na Península Ibérica, que traz um clima mais quente ao clima úmido e ventoso de muitos fortes britânicos. Com os locais capazes de evocar a imagem dos celtas, mostra algum nível de conexão na Europa Ocidental na época, embora a área tivesse alguns elementos únicos.
Italian
L'Italia con i romani vide molta azione con strutture in stile collina. Dai catros spagnoli, all'oppidum francese e tedesco, i siti e le colline britanniche, e le fortezze della cima dei monti Daci. Tuttavia, nonostante ciò, e i loro grandi successi su molti, la collina sopravvisse ai romani, in Scozia e in Irlanda, anche se la cultura romana ha ancora molti eredi.
Greek
Οι λόφοι της δυτικής Ευρώπης είναι υπέροχοι χώροι, αλλά θα πιστεύατε ότι η Ακρόπολη ήταν επίσης λόφο
Catalan
Els castros d’Ibèria són llocs fantàstics, però també Espanya tenia òpids. De fet, el castell de Montjuïc de Catalunya potser també era una fortalesa.
Russian
Городища Западной Европы и Литвы являются отличными достопримечательностями, и у России не было такой традиции таких специфических мест. Однако некоторые говорят, что Москва была построена на некоем городском стиле.
Latvian
Lietuvā ir pilskalni, bet arī Latvijā ir dažas no šīm pilskalnu vietām. Latvijā tiek izmantots līdzīgs vārds tam, ko Lietuva dēvē par struktūrām. Daži bija no laikmeta, kad liela daļa pārējās Eiropas atradās Romā, un daži tika izmantoti līdzīgā laikā kā Lietuva.
Slovakian
Na Slovensku sa nachádza aj niekoľko lokalít v štýle kopca, hrad Devín a Bratislavský hrad sa nachádzajú na lokalitách, ktoré by Keltovia používali ako hrady.
Basque
Euskaldunen lurretan ere badaude kastro batzuk.
Breton
Menez Mikael ar Mor eo anv brezhonek ar roc'h, warni un abati kozh hag ur gêriadenn, er gumun c'hall, Mont-Saint-Michel, France departamant gall ar Manche e, e Normandi, France.
Karrek Loos y'n Koos pe Karrek Loes y'n Koes, zo un enezennig war aod Kernev-Veur, dirak Marghasyow, nepell diouzh Pennsans (Kernev-Veur ( Kernow e kerneveureg )) . Saint Michael’s Mount eo anvet e saozneg, da lavaret eo Menez Mikael . Pa vez tre, e vez stag ouzh an douar-bras hag e c’haller mont di dre ur chaoser.
Norweigan
Nordmannen fra Norge kom over høydeforter og angrep mange, og noen er sikkert de fortene som er nevnt i sagaene om Island. Nettsteder som Dumbarton, Burghead og mer led sin angrep. Selv om senere slott som noen ganger ble bygd på gamle hillfort-steder, var maktsentrene for etterfølgerne til disse piktiske og britiske kongedømmene, den skotske nasjonen. Skjønt det var mer komplisert enn bare en historie om bakkeforter og slott.


For this page, here are the pictures, by name left to right then down.

So first of all, almost all the pictures on this page are from Wikimedia Commons Public domain. Although it is very random, there is such a selection I have found some very fine ones. I would have really liked the biggest German and French forts in their greatest splendour, but it is hard to get pics like that, though I have some amazing pics from my story here from the mainland of Europe, most of the best I could find that were available to use in this website and my story, that I knew of. 

So firstly, is a masterpiece in Czechia, the Czech Republic, Hradiště nad Závistí (the largest oppidum in Bohemia) near Prague-Zbraslav, Czech Republic. A view across the Vltava River towards southeast a Public domain pic I found on Wikimedia Commons. By it is another Wikimedia Public domain picture, it is Celtic oppidum from 5th century BCE, Remains of the ramparts of the Celtic town from the 5th century. BC in Hradiště u Nasavrk, district Chrudim. Showing how big the ditches were. Some Oppidum in Europe were even larger than what we have in Britain. You could call them mega hillforts in cases, though that is only a term I use.

Then there is a public domain Wikimedia Commons, picture, Castro de Carcoda ou Carcola, Spanish public domain Wiki Commons pic, wonderful structures, reminds many of sites like Tre'r Ceiri.

Then a rarity for this page, a picture of mine, so you need my permission to use it, it is of Devin Castle. Well this castle sits half way between Vienna, the very eastern located capital of Austria, and Bratislava the very western for it, capital of Slovakia. Indeed it is where the border between the two lands is, and it has been a border of sorts for a long time. When Slovakia was part of the Hungarian empire, this was the boundary of the 2 halves of the Austro Hungarian Empire. This influence added to by how not only does it sit along the wonderful Danube River, but the entrance to the region of Moravia, a major part of the Czech Republic, via the Moravia River (Whose entrance to the Danube is by this castle). So a major site which was in the past a castle as well as a hillfort before then. Showing how hillforts across Europe, like castles had strategic locations most of the time. It was surely used by Celtic tribes, on one of the trading thoroughfares of Europe, West East, and North South. Surely commanding it like how Dumbarton controlled the Clyde. Even today, cruise liners, and cargo vessels go up and down the river,  all the way from the Black Sea, to the Black Forest. With at that western point of the Danube, far from this picture, the Rhine not being too far away, from the Bavarian forest.

Then a Lithuanian hillfort, I found on Wikimedia Commons, Bilionių Piliakalnis. Many of Lithuania's hillforts are on Wikimedia Commons, but they are more recent than the Iron Age variety, though just as heroic. In Britain a number of hillforts were named erroneously after Caesar, well one in Lithuania, has a nickname after glorified Napoleon another conqueror of old times as he supposedly stood on it, to watch his army cross a river.

Then a Wikimedia Commons picture of a large hillfort oppidum of Central Europe, I have added a cart inset to it, to add a feel of nostalgia, for those times.

Then a public domain picture of Camp d'Atilla carte postale le talus.jpg This French oppidum site was nicknamed after Atilla the Hun, when it was from before then. It was a good guess, but just a theory.

Just think, Verdun, was so named as of the name Dun, meaning fortress, meaning a site with a ancient Celtic name for a fort. It was also a site of one of the most horrific battles in European history, in World War One, indicating some sites can carry on being of strategic importance.

To the right Bratislava castle, again on a hill, and certainly utilised in the past as a hillfort site afore it were a castle. That is a pic of mine, so you need my permission to use it. The area round it is medievalesque and such, but beyond it, of course is modern.

Then the Acropolis, well it was a legendary site at Athens, but as it's museum shows, it was built upon the site of a hilltop fort, a hill fort. So very prestigious.

To it's right the view from Montjuïc Castle, above Barcelona, used as a powerful site by the Spanish government over Barcelona for a long time. Just a tourist site now, but very likely to have been a hillfort in the past. It is a pic of mine so you need my permission to use it.

Below that a public domain picture of Mont-Saint-Michel in France, so important to Breton and Norman history. I have been there but my picture was not great, and so I can say it is so much like it's Cornish equivalent, and both have some evidence of having been anciently defended as important local and more than that, sites. Indeed it is likely they were among the sites mentioned in Classical texts, where tin was traded from north to south, and trade sent back up by the mighty Venetti fleets, crushed by Caesar. It may be neither were, but there were certainly sites like them. 

Then to it's right, a rampart of a public domain picture on Wikimedia Commons, of a Celtic oppidum site.

Then to it's below, well the sites of Europe's oppida were at times not just bigger than Britain's, but at times more advanced. It was said at times some British forts, could be described as walls, with rubble. Indeed I believe Tacitus used such a description of one fortified site for British Celts.

Well some European ones, in Germany and Gaul had very technical wall building operations. Not that I am doing down the British walls, they were at times amazing, if you have ever seen the excavated remains of a drystone wall hillfort, then you recognize this was a skill, not haphazard stone piling, but some continental walls, were even more advanced. You could say many British walls, were rubble with often a palisade or a pile of dirt or rubble, but look at this estimation of what Bibracte had as walls. It is another public domain Wikimedia commons picture. There is one Germany Celtic fort Heuneburg, that even was clad with white limestone to make it a shining city on a hill image for all to see. Though to be fair some hillforts in South East England may have had this affect from the Chalk downs, when scraping away the grass revealing white ramparts as well. The walls of European forts were of many kinds, and those technical details, I will not delve into here, but there were Central European style and Gaulish styles that resulted in walls that were much stronger than British hillforts. Sometimes lacing them with wood, amid stones, and all sorts were used. Then lastly to it's right, another public domain, Wikimedia commons picture, from Dornburg in Germany showing how many sites are now grown over, thousands of years after they were so special.

Bratislava Hillfort.jpg

Above, my drawing of Bratislava Hillfort

 
Mont-Saint-Michel and Saint Michael's Mount Coffee Mug
Mont-Saint-Michel and Saint Michael's Mount Coffee Mug
by cooldudeproducts