Explore the Iron Age sites of England, Wales and Scotland.
By TSN Moorhead and JD Hill
Last updated 2011-02-28
Explore the Iron Age sites of England, Wales and Scotland.
There are Iron Age sites, reconstructions and museums across England, Wales and Scotland. Many of the sites listed below are under the guardianship of English Heritage, Historic Scotland, CADW (Wales) and the National Trust. Others are accessible by public footpaths, but several are on private land. Care should be taken when visiting sites, especially those near cliffs and in wilder regions. Ordnance Survey references have been provided for many of the sites.
The BBC series 'Surviving the Iron Age' was filmed at Castell Henllys Iron Age fort, in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Buckinghamshire, Ivinghoe Beacon hill-fort, Ivinghoe (SP 960168). National Trust.
Cambridgeshire, Wandlebury hill-fort, Stapleford (TL 493534). Situated on the hill above the Gog Magog golf course, with easy access.
Stonea Campm, SE of March (TL 949 937). Access by car to the site has been made possible.
Cornwall, Carn Euny ancient village, Sancreed, near Land's End (SW 403288). English Heritage. There is fine preservation of stone house foundations, and an underground passage, or fogou. The finds are at the Royal Cornwall Museum (see below).
Chysauster ancient village, Madron, near Land's End (SW 472350). Like Carn Euny, but with even better preservation of houses. The finds are at the Royal Cornwall Museum (see below).
Royal Cornwall Museum, River Street, Truro, TR1 2SJ. Some fine Iron Age exhibits, including references to the tin industry that flourished in Cornwall.
Derbyshire, Mam Tor hill-fort, between Castleton and Edale (SK 128837). The largest hillfort in Derbyshire, with marvellous views.
Dorset, Maiden Castle hill-fort, Winterborne Monkton, near Dorchester (SY 669884). English Heritage. Probably the most famous hill-fort in Britain. Maiden Castle was the site of conflict between the Roman invaders and Britons. It also has Neolithic remains. Finds from the site, including the Briton with a Roman catapult point in his spine, are on display in Dorset County Museum (see below).
Dorset County Museum, High Street West, Dorchester, DT1 1EW. 01305 262735. The museum displays much of the material excavated at Maiden Castle.
Essex, Castle Museum, Colchester, CO1 1TJ. Fine collection of material from Iron Age graves around Colchester.
Gloucestershire, Crickley Hill hill-fort, Coberley (SO 928161). National Trust. This is another Iron Age hill-fort ,which was preceded by a Neolithic causewayed enclosure. The site has been the focus of important excavations in recent years.
Greater London, British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG. Gallery 50: Celtic Europe.
Hampshire, Danebury Ring hill-fort, Nether Wallop, near Andover (SU 323377). This hill-fort was the site of the most extensive excavations ever carried out at an Iron Age hill-fort in Britain. Many of the finds are at the Museum of the Iron Age in Andover (see next entry). Parking and access provided by Hampshire County Council.
Museum of the Iron Age, Andover Museum, 6 Church Close, Andover SP10 1DP Tel: 01264 366283. This museum is largely devoted to the finds from, and interpretation of, the excavations at Danebury (see entry above).
Butser ancient farm, Nexus House, Gravel Hill, Horndean, Hampshire P08 0QE Tel: 01705 598838. The most important experimental Iron Age farm in Britain. It is open to the public and to school parties.
Hereford and Monmouth, Herefordshire Beacon hill-fort, Colwall, on the Malverns (SO 760399). This impressive hill-fort follows the contours of the Malvern Hills. A medieval motte and bailey castle was built at the centre of the site in the 11th or 12th century. Easy access by road and footpaths.
Hertfordshire, Wheathampstead Devil's Dyke, St Albans (TL 186133). National Trust. A massive, but enigmatic, earthwork.
Verulamium Museum, St Michael's, St.Albans, AL3 4SW.
Kent, Bigbury Wood hill-fort, Harbledown, near Canterbury (TR 116576). This hill-fort might have been the site of Caesar's first battle against the Britons during his second expedition to Britain in 54BC. Access by public footpath.
Norfolk, Thetford Castle, Thetford (TL 875828). The ramparts and ditches surrounding the medieval motte are accepted to be Iron Age.
Warham Camp, Warham All Saints (TF 944409). An impressive little fort on a slope above the River Stiffkey; access by public footpath.
Northumberland, Old Bewick hill-fort, New Bewick (NU 075216). This hill-fort, accessible by public footpath, is on a spur. Tremendous views.
Oxfordshire, Uffington Castle hill-fort, Kingston Lisle (SU 299864). English Heritage. This hill-fort is near to several famous ancient monuments - including the Ridgeway, Wayland Smithy long-barrow and the Uffington White Horse.
Shropshire, The Wrekin hill-fort, Wellington (SJ 630083). Access by footpath.
Somerset, South Cadbury hill-fort, South Cadbury (ST 6728252). National Trust. This famous site has Neolithic origins. The later Iron Age fort was re-fortified at the end of the Roman period when it has been often associated with King Arthur.
Peat Moors Centre, Westhay, near Glastonbury. The centre has reconstructions of Iron Age roundhouses and other ancient structures.
Sussex, Cissbury hill-fort, Findon, near Worthing (TQ 139080). This magnificent hill-fort was also the site of earlier flint-mining in the Neolithic period. Parking and access by public footpath.
Wiltshire, Figsbury Rings hill-fort, Winterborne (SU 188338). National Trust. An unusual hill-fort because it has an internal ditch, which is not fully understood. There is a wonderful view of Salisbury and the Salisbury Plain.
Wiltshire Heritage Museum, 41 Long Street, Devizes, SN10 1NS. As well as housing one of the most important Neolithic and Bronze Age collections in the British Isles, this museum also has a fine collection of Iron Age material, including the Marlborough Bucket.
Worcestershire, Bredon Hill hill-fort, Bredon's Norton (SO 958402). Can be approached by footpaths from Great Comberton or Kemberton.
East Yorkshire, Hull and East Riding Museum, 36 High Street, Hull. Many fine finds from Iron Age burials in the region.
North Yorkshire, Stanwick Iron-Age Fortifications, between Forcett, Carkin, Fields, Park House and Carlton Park (NZ 180115). An area of 750 acres is enclosed by a series of ramparts and ditches.
Anglesey, Caer y Twr hill-fort, Holyhead Mountain (SH 218830): CADW. The Roman author Tacitus tells us that Anglesey was a stronghold of the Druids.
Dyfed, Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Dolaucothi (SN 6640). Although the visible remains are Roman, evidence has been found here for Iron Age mining. National Trust.
Castell Henllys hill-fort, Meline, Crymych, Pembroke. The location used for the BBC series 'Surviving the Iron Age'. Roundhouses have been reconstructed on the site of an Iron Age hill-fort.
Glamorgan, National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff. A fine collection of Iron Age artefacts from Wales.
Gwent, Llanmelin Wood hill-fort, NE of Newport (ST 460925): CADW.
Gwynedd, Tre'r Ceiri hill-fort, Llanaelhaearn (SH 373446). On the eastern peak of Yr Eifli; access by public footpath. One of the most impressive hill-forts in Britain.
All sites are in the care of Historic Scotland, unless otherwise stated.
Arran, Torr a' Chaisteil dun, (NR 9219 2326).
Dumfries and Galloway, Rispain Camp, behind Rispain Farm, one mile west of Whithorn (NX 4293 3993). A rectangular settlement defended by a bank and ditch, dating from the first or second century AD.
Highland, Dun Telve and Dun Troddan, Glenelg (NG 829173; 834073).
Dundornadilla, 14km NW of Altnaharra (Sutherland) (NH 455449).
Lothian, Holyrood Park - four forts and several settlements, Edinburgh (NT 2773).
Castle Law hill-fort and souterrain, SW of Fairmilehead (NT 229638).
Traprain Law hill-fort, SE of East Linton (NT 581746). A famous site, which was occupied into the Roman period. The late-Roman silver hoard found here is in the National Museum of Scotland. Local Authority. Note the steep climb.
North Berwick Law hill-fort. On border of Berwick and East Lothian (NT 555842)
National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. A fine collection of Iron Age material.
Orkney, The Broch of Gurness, 22km NE of Stromness (HY 383267).
Midhowe Broch, Rousay Island (HY 371307).
Grain Souterrain, (HY 4413 1161).
Outer Hebrides, Dun Carloway, Lewis (NB 189412).
Scottish Borders, Edinshall Broch and small fort, Edinshall, Berwick (NT 772603). On private land, access by footpath.
Jarlshof Broch and settlement, (HU 397096).
Mousa Broch, (HU 457236). Probably the most famous broch of all.
Strathclyde, Dunadd hill-fort, Lochgilphead (NR 837936). The finest hill-fort in the region.
Tayside, Ardestie souterrain (NO 5030 3444). A souterrain is a stone-built underground passage. Such monuments are also found in Cornwall (fogou). Their function is not known for certain.
Tealing souterrain, (NO 4121 3816).
The Caterhuns hill-forts, NW of Brechin (NO 548660; NO 555668). The White Caterhun and Brown Caterhun are two of the most famous hill-forts in Scotland.
A Guide to Early Celtic Remains in Britain by P Berresford Ellis (Constable, 1991)
Historic Scotland, the Sites to See by Historic Scotland
Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales (4 volumes on different regions) by CADW
Ordnance Survey Historical Map and Guide (Ancient Britain, 1990)
Many sites, museums and other archaeological contacts can be found in:
Teaching Archaeology: A United Kingdom Directory of Resources. edited by D Henson (Council for British Archaeology, 1996)
Discovering Archaeology in England and Wales by J Dyer (Shire, 1997)
JD Hill is curator of Iron Age collections at the British Museum.
TSN Moorhead is education officer for Archaeology at the British Museum.
JD Hill is curator of Iron Age collections at the British Museum. TSN Moorhead is education officer for Archaeology at the British Museum.
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