Sunday, 10 April 2016

Caer Caradoc

This is a view from Caer Caradoc, a hill we climbed one fine afternoon during our recent Shropshire hols. The earthworks of an iron age or late bronze age hill fort are still clearly visible on the summit. Caratacus is reputed to have made his last stand there against the Roman invaders, although that may be little more than local legend.

This is me climbing the first part of the hill up to Three Fingers Rock. Not difficult, but I can easily imagine the effort required to carry food, water and other supplies to the fort. There are easier approaches but one way or another the hill had to be climbed if the fort was to be supplied. Not only that, but it was cold and windy when we were there in early April. The views were superb, but living up there would be grim during the colder months.

Part of the Caer Caradoc earthworks

So what was it, this mysterious fort? Was it a temporary place of retreat in case of attack? A status symbol controlling the local area like a Norman castle? Some hill forts were clearly fortified habitations but those I’ve seen perched on top of hills seem to be more basic and too small and logistically inconvenient to have been permanently occupied.

It’s the lack of evidence which is so fascinating. It almost encourages us to spin plausible stories within the uncertain boundaries of what little we know.


Sam Vega said...

I've always been fascinated by these places, and have an informal mental list of some really stunning ones which have a strong atmosphere. Growing up and living most of my life in "chalk country", I have visited lots. Explanations of their origins and purpose have always seemed a bit dodgy, with archaeologists seeming to go in for a lot of guesswork and unsupported assertions. The problem with the really big ones is that - given the weapons available - they would have needed huge armies to mount any effective defense. Anything really grand that involves a lot of work with little discernible benefit always seems to get labelled as "religious" or "ceremonial".

Michael said...

The last person you want to ask is Tony Robinson and his tiresome band of excavators.

They'd come up with some stupid idea that it was a site for moon people to land on!

Demetrius said...

A service station for prehistoric drovers?

A K Haart said...

Sam - I've visited lots too and as you say, some have a strong atmosphere. I suspect there is also a common problem when it comes to explanations of their use: uncertainties attract those who are willing to take advantage of the evidence vacuum to push their ideas.

Scrobs - I've seen one or two of his shows and one about the Derwent Valley was pretty accurate. The trouble is, with celebrities you can't be sure.

Demetrius - the Port Way over Long Mynd isn't far away but the Caer Caradog site would have had to market their services pretty forcefully.

Anonymous said...

We fell in love with Shropshire over several visits but then came to your conclusion: "The views were superb, but living up there would be grim during the colder months."

So we moved to 'Zouth Zummerzet' instead - and it hasn't stopped pissing down ever since!

A K Haart said...

David - you should have tried tropical Derbyshire. It's sometimes warm up here for hours on end.