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Maiden Castle

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Maiden Castle
Author: activesam88, Published: 11 Feb 2017 Walk Rating:star0 Maiden Castle Walking Guide star0 Maiden Castle Walking Guide star0 Maiden Castle Walking Guide star0 Maiden Castle Walking Guide star0 Maiden Castle Walking Guide
Dorset, Dorchester
Walk Type: History trail
Maiden Castle
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Maiden Castle Walking Guide boot Maiden Castle Walking Guide
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This 2 mile circular walk is around the English Heritage site of Maiden Castle, near Dorchester in Dorset. Maiden Castle is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts in Europe. The route described here is the easiest option within the site and follows a simple loop within the inner field, but if you are feeling more adventurous you can walk around the outer defence hills comprised of rougher ground and with more climbs and descents.

Entry to Maiden Castle is free and the site is open during daylight hours. This simple 2 mile loop does involve some gentle climbing and you will need to negotiate some kissing gates. The site is very exposed with no shelter. It is a very popular place for dog walking, although dogs need to be on a lead in the inner field as sheep often graze here. If you wish to alter the route by heading into the outer ramparts, you will need to negotiate steeper gradients plus more kissing gates and stiles. Allow 1 hour.

Maidens Castle is located about 2 miles south-west of Dorchester. There is a free car park at the bottom of the hill, on Maiden Castle Road. The nearest postcode is DT2 9EY. There are some cycle locking stations if you wish to cycle to the car park and it is located just off the National Cycle Route 2. There are no buses that run directly to the site, but some do stop nearby. You can take Damory Service 1 to Maiden Castle Lane and then walk 0.5 miles. Alternatively, First Service 10 or Damory Service 183 run to Winterbourne Monkton (a 0.75 mile walk away) or First Service 31 and Damory Service 61 (Wed only) allow you to alight between Martinstown and Poundbury (followed by a 1 mile walk on a footpath).

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Walk Sections

Start to First Kissing Gate
Start to First Kissing Gate

Start point: 50.699 lat, -2.4711 long
End point: 50.6976 lat, -2.4736 long

From the free car park, start walking up the hill following the path. You will reach the first kissing gate.

First Kissing Gate to The Western Entrance
First Kissing Gate to The Western Entrance

Start point: 50.6976 lat, -2.4736 long
End point: 50.6965 lat, -2.4755 long

Go through the gate and again keep following the path until you reach a sign, which marks the Western Entrance to the fort.

The Western Entrance to Second Kissing Gate
The Western Entrance to Second Kissing Gate

Start point: 50.6965 lat, -2.4755 long
End point: 50.6949 lat, -2.475 long

Keep to the right and, as the path disappears, keep to the flattest part of the grass. It will snake up in towards the centre of the hill fort, soon bending to the right and then to the left. A second kissing gate marks the entrance to the inner field. At this point you can either choose to go through into the field for an easier walk (the one described here) or walk right past this to go around the outer more difficult walk.

Second Kissing Gate to The Eastern Entrance
Second Kissing Gate to The Eastern Entrance

Start point: 50.6949 lat, -2.475 long
End point: 50.6938 lat, -2.465 long

In the inner field there are lots of interesting signs to give you history of the site. This simple walk takes you on a loop around the edge of the field, keeping the fence line on your right.

Maiden Castle is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts in Europe and covers the size of 50 football pitches. Its huge multiple ramparts, mostly built in the 1st century BC, once protected hundreds of residents. When it was first built, the gleaming white chalk ramparts would have towered over the surrounding landscape. Excavations here have revealed much about the fort's history, including a Roman temple built in the 4th century AD. The archaeologists also found evidence of a late Iron Age cemetery, where many of those buried had suffered horrific injuries.

The Eastern Entrance to Field Exit
The Eastern Entrance to Field Exit

Start point: 50.6938 lat, -2.465 long
End point: 50.6955 lat, -2.4745 long

At the far end of the fort you will reach the Eastern Entrance. Complex entrances meant that people entering and leaving the fort could be closely monitored. They also made any direct assault on the gateway difficult. At its height, the eastern entrance comprised narrow, complex passageways, overlooked by stone platforms, from which guards could have monitored and, if necessary, defended the entrance. Over 20,000 slingstones, small rounded pebbles from Chesil Beach on the Dorset coast, have been found at the eastern entrance. They were stored in large pits ready to be thrown or slung at attackers.

Again at this point you could exit and take the outer route or, if you took the outer route so far, you can re-enter the inner field here. For the main simple route, just continue around the boundary of the inner field.

Field Exit to End
Field Exit to End

Start point: 50.6955 lat, -2.4745 long
End point: 50.699 lat, -2.4712 long

When you have completed the circuit you will come back to the Western Entrance. Exit the field here and you can walk back down the hill to the car park.

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network Maiden Castle Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by the author activesam88 and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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