Hod Hill

Stourpaine, Dorset


NGRef: ST857106
OSMap: LR194
Sitetype: IAf

Iron-Age Hillfort

Later the site of a Roman auxiliary fort. Situated just SE of Hambledon Hill, this rectangular fort was defended by a double bank and ditch on all sides bar the W, where the steep descent to the river Stour made only a single line of defences necessary. Entrances are at the NE and SW corners. It probably begun in the 5th century BC (radiocarbon date of c460BC), and the interior was dotted with hundreds of round hut depressions and storage pits following street lines, many of which can still be seen in the SE corner. The numerous buildings prove the fort was densely populated, and it remained so until it was taken by Vespasian and legio II sometime after 43AD. The Roman attack seems to have been directed upon the SE entrance, where a concentration of ballista bolts have been found around a large hut in this corner of the fort, which was itself surrounded by a rectangular palisade; piles of slingstones were found by its doors. The Romans built a fort in the NW corner of the hillfort at the highest point on the hill. This 4.4ha structure used the original defences on the N and W, with 2 main gates in the centre of new earthworks erected on the S and E sides. Built to take advantage of the views it commanded, and its access to the river, for which a small gate was made in the W Iron Age rampart, this fort housed about 600 legioaries and a force of 250 cavalry, and was occupied until its abandonment in 51AD.