Hod Hill - History and Facts | History Hit

Hod Hill

North Dorset, England, United Kingdom

Hod Hill is one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in Dorset.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Commission Air / Alamy Stock Photo

About Hod Hill

Hod Hill is an Iron Age hillfort and one of the largest of its kind in Dorset. With its imposing size and ramparts, Hod Hill would have defended a village.

In 44 AD, it is likely to have been captured by the Romans during their invasion of Britain. The Roman Second Legion, led by the future emperor Vespasian, was sent to subdue the region and captured a number of hill forts in the area.

Evidence of Roman occupation of Hod Hill can be seen at the site in the form of the remains of a Roman fort.

Hod Hill history

Overlooking the River Stour, Hod Hill developed into a large Iron Age community likely consisting of over two hundred round houses.

Hod Hill was fortified no later than the 5th century BC and was occupied by members of the Durotriges tribe. The defences were bivallate, namely two ditches, with the inner rampart probably topped by a palisade.

The Romans invaded Britannia in 43 AD and in the immediate aftermath the Second Augustan Legion was tasked with the pacification of the South West. Evidence of the Roman conquest at Hod Hill have been recovered including a large number of ballista bolts, arrow like shots fired from a large crossbow like device.

The Romans built a fort within the parameter of the former hill fort configuring it in the standard Roman ‘playing card’ shape. The original Western entrance was re-used whilst a new double ditch and rampart protected the east and south sides of the Roman compound portioning it off from the remainder of the fortification. The Romans also added a new penetration in the hill fort’s southern rampart improving access to the River Stour.

It is thought that a Legionary cohort here of 500 men would have been garrisoned here, along with a cavalry detachment around 250 strong. It was abandoned in 51 AD as military priorities changed.

Hod Hill today

Today visitors can explore the earthworks from both the Roman and Iron Age periods and imagine what it would’ve looked like thousands of years ago. Inside the hillfort there are remnants of buildings and property boundaries in the form of circular hollows and ridges.

Hod Hill is also home to a variety of plants and animals. The thin chalk soils on the steep ramparts are ideal for fine grasses, sedges and flowers which attract a wealth of butterflies.

Getting to Hod Hill

The address of Hod Hill is Stourpaine, Nr Blandford Forum, Dorset. There is a small car park for Hod Hill half a mile off the A350. The nearest bus stops are Stourpaine and Durweston.

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