Bere Regis Village, Dorset
 
Bere Regis Village
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The Ancient History of the Village

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The Iron Age  -  500 BC to AD 43
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   FURTHER   INFLUXES   into   southern   Britain   in   about   500   BC   of   invaders   and   settlers   who   had   discovered   the   use   of   iron   for   making   implements and   weapons,   marked   the   beginning   of   the   British   Iron Age.   The   most   notable   remains   of   this   period   are   the   hill-fort   earthworks   which   in Dorset   occur   in   three   lines   running   roughly   from   south   east   to   north   west   following   the   principal   hill   ranges.   The   large   ones   such   as Maiden   Castle,   Hod   Hill,   Badbury   Rings   and   Eggardon   Hill   are   very   spectacular   and   well-known,   but   there   are   many   smaller   ones. Woodbury Hill   in   this   parish   lies   in   the   centre   line   of   Dorset   hill-forts,   and   its   immediate   neighbours   are   Woolsbarrow   on   the   east   and   Weatherby Castle on the west, both of which lie just outside the parish boundaries. A   characteristic   of   an   Iron Age   hill-fort   is   its   free   shape,   where   the   tiers   of   alternating   banks   and   ditches   follow   the   con-tours   of   the   hill   on which   it   is   situated.   The   construction   of   one   of   these   earthworks   must   have   entailed   an   immense   amount   of   labour,   and   a   hill   already   having   a suitable natural shape seems always to have been selected. Woodbury   Hill   has   a   flat   top   of   about   13   acres   (5   hectares)   and   was   surrounded   by   a   double   row   of   banks   and   an   intervening ditch. Although   the   hill   has   suffered   considerable   damage   as   a   result   of   its   use   for   some   700   years   as   the   site   of   an   annual   fair, and   from   the   removal   of   much   of   the   outer   bank   for   the   sake   of   the   gravel   of   which   it   was   made,   the   original   banking   and ditching can still be clearly seen in many places. The Drawing shows a plan of the earthwork. The   drawing   is   based   on   a   1724   engraving,   and   although   18th   century   engravings   are   often   inaccurate   and   exaggerated,   some idea   of   Woodbury's   original   appearance   is   conveyed   in   it,   being   drawn   at   a   time   before   much   of   the   damage   to   the outer banks had taken place. The   Map   here   shows   the   relationship   of   Woodbury   Hill   to   its   neighbouring   hill-forts,   and   the   probable   trackway   system existing at the time superimposed on a present day map of the parish. From   earliest   prehistoric   times   even   into   the   Roman   period   and   beyond,   only   the   upper   levels   of   the   chalk   and   heathland   were   in   any   way   habitable or   negotiable,   the   valleys   being   too   marshy   and   densely   wooded   and   even   quite   impassable   in   places.   The   ancient   settlements   are   therefore   to   be found   on   this   higher   clearer   ground,   and   the   trackways   occur   as   main   ridgeways   with   subsidiary   branches,   only   descending   into   and   crossing   the valleys   where   a   higher   route   was   not   possible.   The   high   level   of   these   tracks   also   enabled   the   traveller   to   more   readily   identify   his   whereabouts from natural landmarks, besides being in a better defensive position against attack. The   basic   network   of   tracks   would   have   become   established   during   Neolithic Times   (2500-1900   BC)   and   been   further   developed   during   the   Bronze Age   (1900-500   BC)   when   the   disposition   and   grouping   of   barrows   give   indications   of   their   routes.   During   the   Iron Age   the   network   would   have   been further developed in order to link the hill-forts, whilst some of the earlier routes might have become disused. The   exact   routes   of   these   ancient   trackways   must   of   necessity   be   conjectural,   but   evidence   of   them   still   exists   in   many   ways-for   instance,   in   Saxon times   when   many   of   them   were   still   in   use,   their   routes   were   often   used   to   delineate   parish   boundaries.   Such   a   case   is   the   route   along   the   spine   of Black   Hill,   where   a   footpath   still   exists   forming   the   parish   boundary   with   Turnerspuddle,   and   where   round   barrows   occur   at   intervals. Also,   the   road from   Gallows   Hill   to   Wareham,   marking   the   southern   boundary   of   the   parish,   follows   the   route   of   an   old   trackway.   The   `hollow'   lanes,   where   the pathway   is   sunken   perhaps   several   feet   below   the   adjoining   ground   level   through   centuries   of   continuous   use   and   erosion   also   denote   very   ancient origins   and   probably   mark   the   routes   of   ancient   trackways.   There   are   several   of   such   lanes   in   the   parish-Butt   Lane   Hollow,   Black   Hill   Lane   and Dead Woman's Hollow, to name but three. Towards   the   end   of   the   Iron Age   as   such,   the   whole   of   Europe   had   become   part   of   the   Roman   Empire   and   the   conquest   of   Britain   was   inevitable. The   Britons,   however,   did   not   yield   to   the   Roman   invaders   without   a   struggle,   and   many   fierce   battles   were   fought   at   the   hill-forts   before   the conquest was completely achieved in AD 43.
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website

The Ancient History of the Village

Click / tap image to enlarge
The Iron Age  -  500 BC to AD 43
    FURTHER    INFLUXES    into    southern    Britain    in    about    500    BC    of invaders   and   settlers   who   had   discovered   the   use   of   iron for     making     implements     and     weapons,     marked     the beginning   of   the   British   Iron Age. The   most   notable   remains of   this   period   are   the   hill-fort   earthworks   which   in   Dorset occur    in    three    lines    running    roughly    from    south    east    to north    west    following    the    principal    hill    ranges.   The    large ones   such   as   Maiden   Castle,   Hod   Hill,   Badbury   Rings   and Eggardon    Hill    are    very    spectacular    and    well-known,    but there are many smaller ones. Woodbury Hill   in   this   parish   lies   in   the   centre   line   of   Dorset   hill-forts,   and   its immediate   neighbours   are   Woolsbarrow   on   the   east   and   Weatherby Castle    on    the    west,    both    of    which    lie    just    outside    the    parish boundaries. A   characteristic   of   an   Iron Age   hill-fort   is   its   free   shape,   where   the   tiers of   alternating   banks   and   ditches   follow   the   con- tours    of    the    hill    on    which    it    is    situated.    The construction   of   one   of   these   earthworks   must   have entailed   an   immense   amount   of   labour,   and   a   hill already    having    a    suitable    natural    shape    seems always to have been selected. Woodbury   Hill   has   a   flat   top   of   about   13   acres   (5 hectares)   and   was   surrounded   by   a   double   row   of banks   and   an   intervening   ditch.   Although   the   hill has   suffered   considerable   damage   as   a   result   of its   use   for   some   700   years   as   the   site   of   an   annual fair,   and   from   the   removal   of   much   of   the   outer   bank   for   the   sake   of the   gravel   of   which   it   was   made,   the   original   banking   and   ditching   can still   be   clearly   seen   in   many   places.   The   Drawing   shows   a   plan   of   the earthwork. The     drawing     is     based     on     a     1724 engraving,    and    although    18th    century engravings     are     often     inaccurate     and exaggerated,    some    idea    of    Woodbury's original    appearance    is    conveyed    in    it, being   drawn   at   a   time   before   much   of   the damage    to    the    outer    banks    had    taken place. The    Map    below    shows    the    relationship    of    Woodbury    Hill    to    its neighbouring   hill-forts,   and   the   probable   trackway   system   existing   at the time superimposed on a present day map of the parish. From    earliest    prehistoric    times    even    into    the    Roman    period    and beyond,   only   the   upper   levels   of   the   chalk   and   heathland   were   in   any way   habitable   or   negotiable,   the   valleys   being   too   marshy   and   densely wooded   and   even   quite   impassable   in   places. The   ancient   settlements are    therefore    to    be    found    on    this    higher    clearer    ground,    and    the trackways   occur   as   main   ridgeways   with   subsidiary   branches,   only descending   into   and   crossing   the   valleys   where   a   higher   route   was   not possible.   The   high   level   of   these   tracks   also   enabled   the   traveller   to more   readily   identify   his   whereabouts   from   natural   landmarks,   besides being in a better defensive position against attack. The   basic   network   of   tracks   would   have   become   established   during Neolithic   Times   (2500-1900   BC)   and   been   further   developed   during the   Bronze   Age   (1900-500   BC)   when   the   disposition   and   grouping   of barrows    give    indications    of    their    routes.    During    the    Iron   Age    the network   would   have   been   further   developed   in   order   to   link   the   hill- forts, whilst some of the earlier routes might have become disused. The   exact   routes   of   these   ancient   trackways   must   of   necessity   be conjectural,    but    evidence    of    them    still    exists    in    many    ways-for instance,   in   Saxon   times   when   many   of   them   were   still   in   use,   their routes   were   often   used   to   delineate   parish   boundaries.   Such   a   case   is the   route   along   the   spine   of   Black   Hill,   where   a   footpath   still   exists forming   the   parish   boundary   with   Turnerspuddle,   and   where   round barrows    occur    at    intervals.    Also,    the    road    from    Gallows    Hill    to Wareham,   marking   the   southern   boundary   of   the   parish,   follows   the route   of   an   old   trackway.   The   `hollow'   lanes,   where   the   pathway   is sunken   perhaps   several   feet   below   the   adjoining   ground   level   through centuries   of   continuous   use   and   erosion   also   denote   very   ancient origins   and   probably   mark   the   routes   of   ancient   trackways.   There   are several   of   such   lanes   in   the   parish-Butt   Lane   Hollow,   Black   Hill   Lane and Dead Woman's Hollow, to name but three. Towards   the   end   of   the   Iron   Age   as   such,   the   whole   of   Europe   had become   part   of   the   Roman   Empire   and   the   conquest   of   Britain   was inevitable.   The   Britons,   however,   did   not   yield   to   the   Roman   invaders without   a   struggle,   and   many   fierce   battles   were   fought   at   the   hill-forts before the conquest was completely achieved in AD 43.
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