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.