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“Excellent walking grounds but not a castle in sight”
Review of Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle
Ranked #5 of 47 things to do in Dorchester
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 18 April 2012

We arrived here expecting to see a castle, however, having not done our research we were stunned to find a massive iron age hill fort in front of us. Unfortunately there is no tourist office (not sure how many visitors would come per year to warrant one) so there was no literature on the area except for the few panels that were scattered around with bits of information. I did some reading on the fort and the area when I got home and I wish I had done so before I left.

A great plus is the serenity. So quiet at the top of the hill fort. My partner and I spent about 2 hours walking all the way around and getting some fresh air. It's just you and the sheep!

Thank Lel_Abroad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"iron age hill fort"
in 22 reviews
"roman temple"
in 19 reviews
"english heritage"
in 18 reviews
"information boards"
in 25 reviews
"car park"
in 47 reviews
"sheep grazing"
in 6 reviews
"great walk"
in 13 reviews
"kite flying"
in 5 reviews
"huge site"
in 5 reviews
"dog walkers"
in 8 reviews
"up hill"
in 4 reviews
"steep walk"
in 4 reviews
"an iron"
in 5 reviews
"surrounding countryside"
in 9 reviews
"walking boots"
in 4 reviews
"ancient history"
in 5 reviews
"superb views"
in 4 reviews
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299 - 303 of 310 reviews

Reviewed 15 April 2012

Not on the regular tourist trail - but one of my all time favourite places. The vast scale and drama of the remaining earthworks ( definitely NOT a 'Castle') are truly awe-inspiring and give the lie to the idea that the ancient Brits were hovel-dwelling savages hundreds of years before the Romans arrived to 'civilise' our island. When distantly viewed from the ridiculous 'cod-olde' modern Dorchester suburb of Poundbury, the brooding mass of the 'hillfort' ( actually Latin 'Oppidum' translates better as 'market-town' or even 'city') is spectacular and understated. Due to overgrowth of grass, the orginal gleaming white chalk below is occasionally glimpsed, the undulating earthworks are now modestly concealed in a skin of green, forms blending into surrounding landscaped revealed only by shifting sun and clouds. However, as you approach the western entrance the fortified revetments begin to rise out of the horizontal and wildly lurch about you in a dizzying confusion of earth and sky; I was put in mind of the spohisticated complexity of the labyrinthine 'knotwork' art of the period. On entering the vast empty plain of the scoured hilltop enclosure there is dissappointingly little now to see, but it is recommended you go all the way to the older eastern enclosure where few traces of the ancient sacred heart of the community are remaining in the outline of a Romano British temple (4th Century CE) presumably marking the ritual extermination of the previous settlement as the Romans resettled in the new town of Dorchester(Durnouaria). Make your way to the south side side and walk along the perimeter allowing you to fully experience the raw power of hand sculpted earth - vast multiple waves of earth crash into the modern cultivated landscape; all the more impressive when you consider the two and a half thousand years of rain, frosts and decayed that have washed over them, destroying all traces of convential 'architecture' but leaving this enigmatic and beautiful scar on Dorset's landscape. While i am not bothered by the lack of 'visitor centre experience', somehow the poignancy of the place would be better revealed by a (good) artwork or reconstruction of what is known about the former, scale, atmosphere and grandeur of this ancient British, pre-Roman, city would help understanding of its international significance - the English Heritage panels are inappropriately low-key and dare i say 'boring'...?

2  Thank trysca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2012

Made the walk up from the small car park to the entrance of the hill fort in windy but sunny weather during a short holiday near Dorchester. Extremely impressed with the size of the site, billed as being as big as 50 football pitches and I could believe it. The banks and ditches are very well defined, and the interpretation boards in very good condition, amazing to think of it being stormed by the Romans circa AD43! Worth a walk to the top even if you aren't interested in history just for the spectacular view.

Hints and tips: follow the English Heritage brown signs for the car park/entrance and not the EH app.

1  Thank Richard A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2012

I used to live not many minutes away from Maiden and always visit when I go back to Dorset. I've been here hundreds of times over the years and regard it as one of the great sights in England. It is a massive Iron Age hill fort built on an earlier neolithic site and including a later Romano-British temple site. There are no ruins so to speak but massive ditches and ramparts, incredible views and a real atmosphere. There are information boards that explain the site quite well but I would suggest a visit to the County museum in Dorchester first to get a good idea of the site, its history and place in the landscape.

If you are ever in the area do go and visit. Even if you are just after a "different" walk with great views. There are sheep on the site quite often so take care of your dog if you have one.

Thank Texel1745
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 21 July 2010

Don't go expecting a medieval castle, Maiden castle is so much more than this and so much older. I was blown away by the sheer size of this Iron age fort, the ditches are incredible, no wonder it took the Romans a while to capture it! If you are interested in this time period, don't miss it, as back in it's day it must have been a true sight to behold!

Thank totnesanddevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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