Bigbury

Harbledown, Kent


NGRef: TR116576
OSMap: LR179
Sitetype: IAf

Iron-Age Hillfort

This enclosure (now tree-covered) had a single rampart (now only 2.5m high) and ditch (5m wide) with a counterscarp bank where necessary. The entrance to W is now damaged, but the E is strong with extra defences. To N is an annexe that may have been a cattle enclosure. Finds include: IA Pottery, agricultural implements, firedogs, chariot and horse accoutrements and a 5.5m long chain with slave-collars and a padlock. The site is thought to be a fort attacked by Julius Caesar and legio VII in 54BC, when the troops found the entrances blocked with tree-trunks, and had to build a causeway across the ditch.

A large number of metal artefacts have been recovered during gravel quarrying in the 19th century. The finds are remarkable both for their diversity and their sheer quantity, and include fire-dogs, pot-hooks, horse-harness fittings, ploughshares and various tools. It has been suggested that the profusion of domestic evidence is indicative of a hurried evacuation in the face of a strong enemy opposition, and the finding of an iron chain-gang bearing a "barb-spring" padlock of Roman manufacture suggests that the fort was abandoned during the 43AD invasion of Kent and south-east England.

See the article Ironwork Hoards in Iron Age and Roman Britain by W.H. Manning in Britannia III (1972) pp.224-250