Uffington Castle Hillfort


Uffington Castle

Uffington Castle is a hillfort in Oxfordshire (it was marked as being within Berkshire till 1974), in South East England. This fort is partly notable for being such a nice large flat plateau summit of a hillfort, but even more so as most estimates state that the Uffington Horse was being used at the time of it's use. So the finest surviving Iron Age artwork in Britain, is very much nearby.

Here is my bullet point list of facts on this hillfort. 

* Uffington Castle is by The Valley of the White Horse, which is on one side. Then below it on the other side, well today from its grassy plateau top, you see lower but gently rolling downs. A term that is a  mutation of a Celtic word for hills in Southern England. Those downs, look like an image of a farmland painted with brown on corrugated cardboard, for a playschool scene. 

* The hillfort itself is only about 311 metres from the Uffington Horse. This horse was scoured into the chalk, in the early Iron Age or late Bronze Age. The 110 metre long image, must have had some ritual, or power symbolism. It was made so  very noticeable and sheen white on a green background, by the removal of the turf from the chalk hills, and then filling 3 foot deep trenches with crushed white chalk. Importantly the horse needs people to come back and repair it yearly, or it is starts to be covered by grass, so in fact 90 generations have kept it alive for this long time. Some people say it is only possible to be viewed best from above, but surely it is more like, you often know who  somebody is whether they are side on, face on, or you just see their back, and surely you see one bit and you see the other in your mind's eye. So you did not need to see it from the air, you could gather what it looks like, in your minds eye, just by seeing it from different sides. 

* Additionally nearby is the ancient trackway, the Ridgeway, a route from nearer Avebury and the like, that passes up here up more north easterly. Yes there were many routes, and this was not normally a road, as such, but a dry path, and the odd trackway was very useful, for any communication or trade between hillforts, or for that matter battle movements. This fort is one of a very large number of hillforts that happen, or more likely partly as of this route being here, line across this route. Many routes like that have become roads, and main trunk roads today, but some of this route despite it's importance is still farm tracks and footpaths. 

* The fort has just one line of ramparts, more kind of evidence of it being ritual. 

* There were 2 entrances at one stage and then later in the Roman era, one entrance was blocked up. 

* Evidence indicates that this fort was occupied from the 8th Century BC to right across the Iron Age. Though I read somewhere else it was built 500 BC. 

* I wonder if it can also be called Uffington Hillfort, or even Uffington Horse Hillfort. Certainly people have called the Uffington White horse, the Uffington Castle White horse, and mentioned Uffington Castle White Horse and dragon hill, which is a hill below it associated to legends of St George, Which is unusual as many claim he did his slaying of a dragon in North Africa, Then again, it could be based on some other legend, and some even wonder if it indicates the horse is actually a dragon. 

* Firstly there was a wooden palisade, that was replaced by stone walls, a couple of centuries later. 

* There surprisingly is not a heavy level of houses and such like as many forts have in these areas. Indeed in the Roam era, a shrine was there, leading some to speculate, if this was more a religious ritual site, especially how the whole Valley seems to lack some population, and how the White Horse is so close by. 

* I also have my own amateur drawing of how close the horse image is to the hillfort, it is almost that close from a aerial sighting, like from a helicopter.  

* The fine Neolithic tomb, Wayland's Smithy is a Km away in the valley below, on the Ridgeway again, no relation to the Simpsons character Wayland Smithers. 

* It sits on White Horse Hill, which is as it is within Oxfordshire now, the highest point in Oxfordshire. It would not be the highest in Berkshire which it was part of till the 1970s, as Berkshire has the highest hill in south eastern England, Walbury Camp or Walbury Hill, which also is a hillfort, and a big one at that. Then again Walbury Hill used to be part of Hampshire to 1895 and till then was the highest in that county, so whatever it is they are high hills for the area, that is for sure.  

* The etymology of Uffington, is that the name means belonging to Uffa, and possibly town, or enclosure. or even fence. There are a number of villages and settlements of this name. In Shropshire, Lincolnshire, and Oxfordshire.  The fort name must come from the settlement in Oxfordshire, and the name of the horse. It seems Uffa is from a Saxon name, not the Celtic builders of the fort. As so often happened the names change over time. 

* John Betjeman lived in the village of Uffington near the hillfort, for a while.  So that is Uffington for you. 

* The hillfort is about 3 hectares in area. According to this site http://hoary.org/snaps/engl/ridg.html

Thus ends my article on Uffington Castle, though there are more articles linked below.