Located on Wears Hill above the village of Abbotsbury are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort built by the Celtic Durotriges tribe around 800BC. However, the area around the hill fort was occupied as early as Neolithic times dating back to at least 3800 BC. It was part of a chain of hill forts that ran along the coast and included Eggardon and Maiden Castle which were both within seven miles from Abbotsbury Castle. It’s believed that these were more than just settlements but acted as a co-ordinate defence against a potential invasion from Europe.
Built at the top of a chalk hill, the summit of Abbotsbury Castle is protected by twin ramparts (banks) of excavated earth that encircle a roughly triangular area of about 4.5 acres. Two additional ramparts with larger ditches were constructed along the more exposed south eastern side. It is still possible to discern the ‘grass-lines’ of where huts once stood. Part of the defence would have been a beacon fire that could be lit to warn the nearby hill forts of any danger.
When the Romans invaded in AD43 Abbotsbury hill fort was quickly captured with no evidence yet discovered of a battle. This may mean that the Durotriges surrendered in the face of overwhelming odds or may have actually made a deal with the Romans in advance. What is known is that the 2nd Augustian legion of Vespasian took the fort quickly with almost no resistance before moving on to Maiden Castle. Until the site is properly excavated the reason for its rapid collapse remains a mystery.
The Romans seemed to have moved on past Abbotsbury fairly swiftly as there is no surviving evidence that they established either a base or a settlement in the immediate area.
Abbotsbury castle is the highest natural feature for many miles and offers exceptional views of the surrounding countryside. To the west is “The Knoll” with its Neolithic burial mounds. The view to the north east reveals the Kingston Russell stone circle as well as the long barrow known as the Grey Mare and her Colts. Lyme Bay and Chesil Beach, Britain’ longest tombolo, are also visible in the distance.
For many years during the 18th Century the village of Abbotsbury was considered to be a nest of smugglers and a den of thieves. Londoners and the ‘Revenue’ had a very poor opinion of the area but struggled to capture the offenders who had established a chain of lookouts along the hills. Abbotsbury Castle is believed to have been used as one such base.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Station Road, Moreton, Dorchester
Dorset, England, DT2 8BB
+44 (0)1305 853 801
- Address: Parks Lane Byway, (off) Abbotsbury Hill Rd, Abbotsbury, Dorset, England, UK, DT3 4JZ
- GPS: 50.67705172007745,-2.62998104095459
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: DT3 4JZ
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Poor
- Visibility from Road: Fair