Maiden Castle, Dorchester

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    Abstract

    THE most striking point to emerge from this season's excavations at Maiden Castle, so far as they have gone, is the conclusive evidence confirming Dr. Mortimer Wheeler's inferences as to the importance of the pre-Roman fortress-settlement in Britain. Should further investigation confirm his views as to its prevalence as an organized system, this should have a profound effect on theory as to the origins and form of town life in early and medieval England. The importance of Maiden Castle itself may be gauged from the evidence now being found of the deliberate destruction of the walled system of de fences when the inhabitants were removed in Roman times to the newly founded neighbouring city of Dorchester. As investigation proceeds, the character of the prehistoric stone walling, which has now been found incorporated in the ramparts, and of which the existence was previously unsuspected, becomes more and more impressive. These walls were built of limestone from Upwey, some of the blocks weighing as much as five hundredweight. At the eastern entrance a later wall of fine masonry now being uncovered still stands to a height of six courses. Not only is it evident that it overlies earlier pre historic levels of occupation, but it is also clear that it was designed to form a blocking wall across the prehistoric gateway when the hill-top temple was being built in the century preceding the coming of the Romans. Within the fortress itself, the remains of a substantial structure of wood, standing at the highest point of the camp, is being excavated. This was evidently of considerable size, and was in part con structed of tree-trunks a foot in diameter. Nearby a skeleton was found buried at some depth, an unusual feature in a fortress. The excavations will be continued until the end of the present month, when the three years' investigation which was undertaken by the Society of Antiquaries of London with the co-operation of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society will have been completed.

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