Worlebury Hillside butresses

1st August 2009

Worlebury Iron Age Hillfort

Chris Richards gave a very interesting talk with slides on Worlebury Iron Age Hillfort as part of Archaeology Day held at the museum.

A large number of us were shown the drawings of the surveys of the hill made by numerous different people during the 1800's (including Rev.Warre, and C. Dymond). These drawings, which were unseen by most of us previously, clearly depicted the plan of the hillfort and its remaining structures as seen in the 1800s showing the defensive wall, three separate entrances, the sites of the roundhouses, a couple of stone buildings (probably more modern than Iron Age) together with the 94 grain storage pits. Also mapped were the remains of the Celtic field systems, some of which can still be seen in the woods.

Questions have always been asked regarding water supply for the Iron Age People, this was explained by an excellent colour photograph taken by Chris Richards in the 1970's at Spring Cove (at the start of the Toll Road) which shows water trickling through the rocks, together with boulders from a collapsed cave. It can be imagined that the inhabitants had a lovely life up there as they were completely cut off from danger when the tides were high, and the ground below was marshy when the tide went out. They grew plenty of food (beans, barley, wheat etc) evidence of which has been found in at least one of the storage pits. They kept cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

They also mined red & yellow ochre. They built their homes on the south side of the wall to stay out of the notorious wind for which Weston is well known. There are several bronze age barrows on top also, one of which had possibly been the site of an altar as several objects were discovered lying on the surface - perhaps the soil from the barrow had eroded, thereby revealing votive offerings? As limestone would have been too hard to dig with the traditional antler picks, it must be assumed that they used iron crowbars to dig into the rock and thereby crack it along the naturally forming fissures. The stones were faced and their quality remarked upon by Caesar.

Many of us knew something about life on Worlebury Hillfort before our talk, many of us had a lot more insight into the lives of our ancient neighbours by the end of this fascinating hour!

Lesley Candal