Design and construction

The small hill-fort of Caburn, Sussex was built during the early Iron Age, although archaeologists now believe its defences were strengthened around the mid-1st century AD, possibly in response to the Roman invasion of Britain.The site was abandoned soon afterwards. (Courtesy of Steve Danes)

Celtic Fortifications Britain

Today, Celtic fortifications, particularly hill-forts, are readily identifiable by the remains of their ramparts and ditches - a still formidable system of fieldworks which serve as visible reminders of an Iron Age past in Britain. The fact that they can still be seen is a testimony to the skill with which these fortifications were sited and built, and to the longevity of the materials their builders used. These forts were built using stone, earth and timber, and all but the last of these materials have weathered the centuries. Although the era was known as the Iron Age, very little ferrous material was used in fort construction - the exception being the odd gate hinge or bracket. Similarly mortar was a post-Roman building material, and the Celts of Britain used dry-stone construction techniques in their fortifications. This was not necessarily a drawback. The fact that the Broch of Mousa in Shetland is still standing after two millennia proves that these structures were built to last.

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