|25 June 2005
Ancient fort in Norfolk gets a new future
Light is being shed on the history of the remains of an ancient fort that has survived the ravages more than a millennium. Only scanty earthworks remain of Bloodgate Hill at South Creake near Fakenham (Norfolk, England), but the Iron Age monument has been preserved after being purchased by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust. The public is now able to discover more about this previously hidden part of the county's history.
An impression of the monument has been achieved with the use of aerial photography, state of the art surveying equipment and extensive excavations. The fort was probably built between two and three thousand years ago and would have been protected by a four-metre deep outer ditch surrounding a bank topped with a wooden palisade.
According to Archaeological Trust director Peter Wade-Martins it would have provided a refuge for local tribespeople in times of war, an assembly place, religious centre or market. We have little evidence of a substantial settlement inside - so its likely the fort was intended as a safe haven for local tribespeople and their livestock in times of war, he said, adding that although the fort would clearly have been a massive defensive structure there was not enough evidence to show that it had been the scene of a pitched battle. A fragment of skull was found in the ditch, but we don't have enough evidence to know if the fort was ever attacked, said Dr Wade-Martins.
Another defensive ditch and mound once stood in the centre of the fort. These have not been excavated but Dr Wade-Martins said it was likely they surrounded the chief's house. Measuring 210m across, the fort is one of the biggest in Norfolk and has some unusual features - the main entrance, to the east, is in line the entrance to the inner ditch and mound, which is rare in Iron Age forts. Despite the fort being abandoned for around 1600 years the ditch and mound stood largely undisturbed until they were partially flattened in a 19th century drive to develop agriculture.
The Archaeological Trust brought the site in 2003 with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and West Norfolk Council.
Sources: EDP 24 (23 June 2005), Advertiser 24 (24 June 2005)
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