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Devil's Dyke, Wheathampstead

    Naturevolume 140page764 (1937) | Download Citation



    THE presentation to the public of land at Wheathampstead, which has been made by Lord Brocket, chairman of the Hertfordshire Society of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, as a personal gift commemorating the coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth, preserves as an open space in perpetuity a site which, as has been shown by the excavations of Dr. R. E. Mortimer Wheeler, is of outstanding archæological and historical significance. For in addition to the four acres of the prehistoric earthwork, known locally as the Devil's Dyke, as Lord Brocket announced in handing over the 999 years' lease to the Wheathampstead Parish Council on October 23, the adjacent area of one hundred acres will also be preserved as an open space under an arrangement he proposes to make with the Hertfordshire County Council and the National Trust. It was here, Dr. Wheeler has shown, that there was situated the fortress, or oppidum, of more than a hundred acres in extent, the largest and strongest in Britain as yet known in its period, which was held by the Belgic tribes who had settled in Britain not long before, and of which the capture as the headquarters of the British forces was the climax of the campaign, in the second of Cæsar's invasions of Britain ; while almost immediately after that event, it would seem, it became the parent city of the British stronghold, also excavated by Dr. Wheeler, at Veralamium, which preceded the Roman occupation. The importance of the site for the history of pre-Roman Britain lays a debt of gratitude to the donor for his gift upon circles far wider than those immediately affected by its preservation of local amenities in the future development of the district.

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