Hod Hill

Occupying a hilltop overlooking the river Stour, it is situated in very close proximity to the smaller, but otherwise quite similar, hill fort of Hambledon Hill. The area enclosed is 21ha; the perimeter ramparts are 1.5 miles long and form a sub-rectangular enclosure. The main defences are uniform to the north, south and east. An inner rampart is 50ft wide at the base and 15ft high with an outer ditch 40ft wide and 20ft deep producing a glacis or sloping face 35ft high. At the exterior is a counterscarp bank, 23ft wide at the base and 7ft high, widening the ditch to 47ft and giving it an outer sloping face of 20ft. Beyond the counterscarp is an outer ditch 27ft wide and 10ft deep. The material extracted from this ditch forms an outer counterscarp mound 15ft wide. The western defences are located at the top of a steep slope down to the Stour: they comprise a single dump rampart 30ft wide and 6ft high with an outer ditch which narrows down the slope to the south.

The two entrances are located in the eastern side of the north-east corner, and the southern side of the south-west corner. The north-east entrance is protected by an outer earthwork or hornwork extending southwards from an origin at the north-western corner. The south-western access, secondary in size and function, possibly admitting access to the Stour for water collection, is protected by an earthwork which extends south-westwards from the gate partially protecting the possible route towards the river. A supplementary outwork is observed leading from the north-west corner and curving eastwards to stop unfinished. Important quarry works are located within the inner earthwork fromwhich material was drawn for the construction of the rampart.

Rampart construction
Period I: A box rampart 9.7 m wide was fronted with timber verticals (probably backed by timber cladding) set into a continuous palisade trench located immediately behind the inner ditch. The rampart was built-up with chalk rubble into which a second row of vertical uprights was set, marking the rear of the rampart. The reconstruction drawings show these two series of uprights to be anchored together by horizontal beams at the top of the rampart.

Period II: The box rampart is converted to a glacis rampart, the earthwork being 35 ft wide at its base; the front of the box rampart was cut away to a slope continuous with the ditch, the mound was built up from the inside with chalk rubble, the front of the new rampart was probably revetted with flint blocks naturally ocurring in the chalk substrate, and rising to form a protecting wall for the rampart walk. An outer wooden palisade was constructed beyond the ditch. The ditch was later deepened to produce a height of 30ft from ditch base to rampart top, the upcast thrown outwards to produce a counterscarp mound replacing the wooden palisade.

Period III: The rampart height was increased and the rampart walk was paved with flint blocks, the flint block rampart was rebuilt at the front of the mound.

The outer ditch and second counterscarp appear to be late, possibly unfinished, additions to the defences as with the hornwork to the north-east and the other outer earthworks.

Traces of dense Iron Age occupation are preserved in the south-east quadrant of the site which has not been ploughed. This is characterised by circular hut circles and pits. A single hut lies within an enclosure and may be an elite or chieftain dwelling (Richmond 1968, Vol II.). More than forty-five circular houses can be recognized which, if extrapolated to the entire enclosure would produce a total of 270 dwellings and a population estimated at between 500-1000 individuals (Cunliffe 2005). A Roman fort of Claudian date occupies the north-west corner of the enclosure.

Burials: No associated cemetery has been located. A single isolated burial was identified in the crest of the inner counterscarp mound.

Excavation history
Excavated periodically ‘for relics’ by Henry Durden in the first half of the nineteenth century. Ploughing after 1858 led to exposure of finds which form the basis of a major collection maintained by Henry Durden. In 1897, limited excavations were undertaken by W. Boyd Dawkins and Talbot Baker. Excavations were undertaken by Sir Ian Richmond for the British Museum between 1951 and 1958.

Established in the Early Iron Age, the change to glacis construction ramparts probably occurred sometime in the Middle Iron Age (fourth-third century BC or thereafter). A break in occupation may have occurred between these two phases (Cunliffe 2005). Much of the dense occupation observed is thought to be of Late Iron Age date and may correspond to an influx of population prior to the Roman conquest. It is not possible to establish if occupation was continuous from the Middle Iron Age onwards (Cunliffe 2005).The hastily dug and unfinished outer earthworks are believed to correspond to the Roman threat. The hillfort was conquered and re-occupied by the Roman army in AD 43.


Nom usuel : Hod Hill

Commune : Blanford

Lieu-dit : Hod Hill

Nom antique : -

Département : Dorset

Région : South West

Pays : Royaume-Uni

Civitas : Durotriges


Superficie : 21 ha

Topographie :  Enceinte de contour multiple

Nb de phases du rempart : 3

Nb de portes connues : 2

Nb de portes fouillées : -

Architecture de rempart : 

1 - Rempart à poteaux frontaux 


Zone d'habitat




Chronologie relative :  -

Occupation du site : 
La Tène ancienne (LT B)-La Tène moyenne (LT C)
La Tène finale (LT D)

Chronologie absolue : -


Brailsford J.W., Hod Hill I: Antiquities from Hod Hill in the Durden Colection, London, 1962.
Collis J.R., Defended sites of the Late La Tène in Central and Western Europe, (British Archaeological Reports, Intl. Ser. 2), Oxford, 1976.
Cunliffe B., Wessex to A.D 1000, a Regional History of England, Longman, London and New York, 1993.
Cunliffe B., Iron Age Britain, B.T Batsford Ltd/English Heritage, London, 1995.
Cunliffe B., Iron Age communities in Britain, An account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC until the Roman Conquest, Routledge, London and New York, 2005 (4th edition).
Richmond I., Hod Hill II: Excavations carried out between 1951 and 1958 for the trustees of the British Museum, London, 1968.


L'oppidum d'Hod Hill est géré par le National Trust et est librement accessible. Sur place persistent des traces de fortifications et d'habitats circulaires.
Quelques objets sont conservés au musée local de Blandford-Forum mais la majorité des collections issues des fouilles de Ian Richmond et d'Henry Durden sont conservées au British Museum.

Un parking permet aux visiteurs de se garer et un petit panneau d'information présente le contexte historique et environnemental, mais ce sont les seuls aménagements. Une marche de 15 à 20 minutes permet d'atteindre le sommet.

Quelques événements occasionnels ont été organisés sur le site, mais de façon isolée, et il n'y a pas de projets de développement au niveau de l'animation.

Le National Trust a édité un petit guide des oppida, qui présente de façon succincte l'oppidum
d'Hod Hill.

Pour en savoir plus, consulter le site internet du National Trust : http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/  

(Camille Daval – ArchéoMédia, mars 2008)


Vue aérienne depuis le sud Vue aérienne depuis l'est

Pip Stephenson / Colin Haselgrove