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that Derbyshire hill fort … again

22 April 2011

At www.pasthorizons.com/index.php/archives/04/2011/fin-cop-hillfort-unearth… is the archaeological story of the excavations 9and you can actually read the excavation reports at www.archaeologicalresearchservices.com ). The discovery of 9 bodies, over 2 years, consisting of a pregnant female,  a teenage boy, 2 other women, a young child and 4 babies were found in a ditch  that had been been filled in with rubble from ramparts that had apparently purposely been toppled over. Hill forts, it is generally understood, were not strictly forts as such but were designed to be impressive, to create a sense of prestige – yet at times they were probably beseiged, or additions were made to actually fortify them against attack. In this instance, what looks like an unfinished section of rampart and stone walls  was demolished – presumably after it was captured, and neutralised. The bodies appear to have been thrown over the ramparts, arguably by an enemy tribal unit. The hill fort was built in the 5th century BC and its demise came after several centuries of use. We know that Neolithic and Bronze Age sites were sometimes ritually filled with rubble and abandoned – might this hill fort be following in the same tradition? In that respect it would be necessary to interpret the bodies as ritual sacrifices which appears to be somewhat farfetched – but who knows what people may have been thinking inside their heads? Was the hill fort deliberately brought to the end of its useful life – and did people move on to a new site or a new location, nearby or far away. Decommissioned if you like, dismantled and abandoned.

The hill top location had been a place used throughout the Bronze Age – from 2300 to around 800BC. There are cairns/ barrows along the escarpment which go back to the Neolithic era (or to the period before 2300BC) and a Mesolithic stone quarry site has been found where flint was worked and implies the location was important even as early as the 5th millennium BC – or even earlier.

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