Saturday, 30 March 2013

Danebury Hill Fort

The Easter holidays arrived yesterday. It was freezing cold and not at all Spring-like or indeed Easterish so we decided to take everyone to Danebury, our local hill fort, forgetting that the clue is in the name: Hill fort- it was far more bitter up there than anywhere else, but our small people (who are increasing in size these days at a rate so rapid as to be almost alarming, and in fact our eldest is now as tall as me so doesn't really count as "small" anymore anyway) are very used to going out into the countryside in all weathers. They run around when they get cold. Initially this was because they were little children, now they do it because it's what their father does. No matter where we are M finds an excuse to run about. It is an often acknowledged fact in our house that dad is 46 going on 7.

Being a healer means that I am sensitive to energy in people and places, and my order of preference for historical sites in terms of how comfortable they make me feel is usually: Bronze Age- love themIron Age- interesting but the martial side echoes for me in quite a brutal way, Roman- nice to look at but I'm not very comfortable in them at all.  Danebury, as an iron age fort, falls midway in my comfort zone.

It's been extensively dug and recorded over the years so a lot is known about it's history and there is a wealth of gruesome evidence for said martiality. These days it is peaceful enough, with impressive earth ramparts rearing up out of the ground made for racing up and down, and beautiful beech trees lining the edges which I like to photograph. Unlike many historical sites, there are no restrictions on where you can walk and the free access makes it a wonderful place to roam.

Sheep with impressive double-horns, and either Dartmoor or Exmoor ponies graze the central part where round houses stood two thousand years ago (and from which dogs are now sensibly excluded, so sadly no Teddy with us yesterday). In the summer they hold open days with painted celtic warriors fighting in small bands and industrious flint nappers demonstrating their skills in the shade of noble beech trees.

The views are breath-taking and although there are always people about, it's not overly soaked with them so you can breath in the atmosphere and easily step back two millenia. 






Last time we were there, which must have been Autumn 2012, M found a family of snails resting in the crack between two close-growing trees near the entrance to the fort. I wondered if they'd still be there, and I'm pleased to say they were...

 

The entrance gateways are still impressive and it doesn't take much to imagine how imposing they must have been when the fort was in it's heyday...






It's quite hard to give an impression of just how steep and high the banks are from photos, but hopefully this will help.....




  Here are the sheep with the impressive horns and the ponies grazing at the top...



When we were kids we used to pull the thorns off rose bushes, lick the flat underside and stick them to the end of our noses and then charge about pretending we were rhinos or unicorns. I was happily telling the children this yesterday when we found these very wicked-looking thorn bushes. They looked at me in that pitying way teenagers reserve for adults who reveal something uncool about their past. Perhaps childhood was simpler thirty years ago?




Anyway, we got round the hilltop walk without freezing too badly and were very glad to head back down the hill towards the car. By this point other families were arriving with their children to admire the views and learn about the past. These children and their fathers were all well behaved, sensible people who walked quietly up the hill dressed in warm coats and offering encouragement to keep going in the face of the cold as the sharp wind threatened to buffet the little ones off the slope and into the fields below. 

How nice, I thought, turning to smile at my own brood and their father, only to discover this......










It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.

Happy Easter all.

CT x


8 comments:

  1. What a great day out. There were similar tussling scenes today in this part of the world! Happy Easter to you all. x

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  2. Honestly Em we can't go anywhere without them attacking each other at some point in the day. On lookers are generally split between those who get it and smile and those who think it's utterly inappropriate behaviour and tut loudly as they walk past.....! PS my deleted comment on your anniversary post yesterday was because the computer gremlins had worked their mischief and posted the same comment twice!

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  3. He He - it looks great fun!
    Happy Easter CT.

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  4. Happy Easter Jessica. Hope your broadband/ computer problems have been fixed now?

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  5. I'd love to visit there; history is one of my real interests. Lovely to see you all had so much fun there!

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    1. I enjoy hill forts mainly because they are "natural" places I think- lumps of earth without too much fuss but plenty of history. And therefore prime places for the kids to beat up dad without getting into too much trouble!

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  6. That looks like a good hill fort we have some in Dorset I haven't visited any for ages! I think I will wait for some warmer weather before visiting any of them! I always think children are like dogs they need to have some exercise too!
    Sarah x

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    1. Badbury rings springs to mind? Good call on the weather though. Definite correlation between dogs and boys!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x