Eggardon Hill is an Iron Age Hill Fort between Dorchester and Bridport. Built about 2500 years ago it is now owned by the National Trust.
Not to be confused with Thomas Hardy’s “Egdon Heath”, which is the fictional name the great author gave to the heathland East of his home at Higher Bockhampton, Eggardon provides commanding views of the surrounding countryside and distant views of the English Channel.
Eggardon is a great place for walking and taking in the rich, green and undulating scenery. On a clear day it is airy, fresh and magnificent. On a grey day, brooding and mysterious.
Small wonder then that some say they have seen ghostly legions marching through the area (perhaps helped by the nearby Roman Road) whilst others claim to have seen UFOs!
Tall tales? Maybe, but one thing is certain, the Ancient Brits sure knew a good place for a hill fort. Whether looked at from a scenic or defensive perspective, Eggardon Hill is in the right place. It's steep sloping sides give excellent visibility of the lower lying lands around and would have provided a formidable defence to any attacking army.
Either of these could provide the reasons why 1000 years after it was built, the hill fort at Eggardon was being used by the Saxons for twice yearly court meetings.
And building the concentric rings of the fort on such high and sloping terrain would have been no easy task for ancient Britain or modern ones either!.
The essential design of the Fort at Eggardon is similar to that of the much bigger Maiden Castle, just down the old Roman Road near Dorchester. A series of banks and ditches were dug around a central defensive compound. Although smaller and less impressive as an engineering work compared to its Dorchester neighbour, Eggardon is a match to Maiden Castle, from a scenic perspective.
Where Maiden Castle looks out onto Dorchester, Eggardon Hill looks out over almost uninterrupted countryside. And being that little bit farther from any major town or village, Eggardon is usually much less well frequented by visitors, although consequently parking is limited. For serious walkers there is always access on foot!
If it’s Iron Age earth works you are after, Maiden Castle is bigger and better. Although if you are really into Iron Age earth works you’ll want to see Eggardon and Maiden Castle and probably throw in Poundbury and Maumbury Ring as well. All of which are within a few miles of Dorchester. But if it's just a beautiful place and some peace and quiet you’re after, Eggardon is the place to be.
Eggardon provides commanding views of the surrounding countryside and...is a great place for walking and taking in the rich, green and undulating scenery. On a clear day it is airy, fresh and magnificent. On a grey day, brooding and mysterious..."