Hengistbury Head

Bournemouth, Christschurch, Dorset


NGRef: SZ164910
OSMap: LR195
Sitetype: Ns/BAb/IApf

Hengistbury itself is the location of a large, open site which was continuously occupied from the Paleolithic (10,550BC) to the Mesolithic (7,800BC) periods. There was also some Bronze Age activity; there are 7 bowl barrows on the Head itself, and 2 more to the NW. The stronghold was situated on the S side of Christchurch harbour, and was defended by the 'Double Dykes', 457m long, built across the neck of the headland. The area it originally enclosed used to be much bigger, but due to erosion over the millennia, this has been reduced to 70ha. The inner bank is 3.7m high with a 12m wide ditch 3.7m deep; the outer defences are smaller. The fort was built in the 8th - 6th centuries BC as a trading centre controlling the rivers leading into Wessex. It became gradually abandoned over the centuries, but was revitalised in the 1st century BC when it became the centre for the importation of luxury goods from the continent, such as Samian Ware from Lugdunum in Gaul, and wine amphorae from S Italy and the Mediterranean. There were several factories on site including salt-workings, iron and copper foundries, and a local mint. Thousands of coins have been found here, mostly of the Durotriges tribe, though also of the Dobunni. Gold coins and bracelets have also been found on the beach. Occupation of the site continued into the Roman period.