“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Hill Fort at Ham Hill

Just west of Yeovil in Somerset on Ham Hill a large Iron Age hill fort and a set of standing stones await the passing visitor.

The hill fort is an impressive construction in the double bank and ditch design, which has 3 miles of ramparts (which rise in places to 12 m in height). The ramparts defend an approximate area of 210 acres and the hill fort sits at around 120 m above sea level, with commanding views of the surrounding landscape.

Archaeological evidence points to the hill fort having been occupied for a significant portion of its history. It is first believed to have been occupied in the 7th Century BC and to also have been used during the Roman era (approx. 43AD – 400AD). It is uncertain whether the site was occupied during the Saxon era (approx. 400AD – 1065AD), but it was certainly in use during the Medieval era (approx. 1066AD – 1484AD). Today the hill fort is occupied by a Visitor Centre and a Public House, making Ham Hill perhaps the only hill fort in the country with its own pub!

The hill fort has produced numerous archaeological finds over the years that have been used to date the periods of occupation, including: sling stones, bronze armor scales, chariot parts, iron currency bars, gold and silver coins, cremations and burials.

The other notable feature at Ham Hill is the circle of standing stones, which are Hamstone. Ham Hill is well known for its quarry and the honey coloured stone (Hamstone) that is produces. Hamstone is used as a building material and has been used for a number of impressive properties in the area, including nearby Montacute House. It seems that the standing stones are a modern creation which were erected in 2000 to commemorate all of the workers who have quarried stone at Ham Hill over the centuries.

So if you are looking to visit a hill fort, see a set of standing stones and have a pint, then Ham Hill is the place to go.
The ramparts.
The ramparts and visitor centre. 
More ramparts.
Yet more ramparts, with standing stones in the distance.
The stones.
The stones from above.
Hamstone close up.
Views from the hill fort.
Ham Hill war memorial.
Ham Hill war memorial.

Pictures, Somerset (September 2013).

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