Monday, 13 August 2012

Two hill forts - yes really there are!

On the hunt for Iron Age remains you quickly learn that there are those that are popular and those that just  - aren't. What is the difference between those that are preserved and cared for and those that are allowed to just moulder away? 

The weekend was spent on the Welsh heritage coast  - more specifically at the small town of Llantwit Major which was hosting the 2012 National Eisteddfod.

The cliffs are broken at Llantwit and it is possible to walk along them in both directions. Today we chose to go east - towards Aberthaw and passing two iron age hill forts.

The coast is eroding here quite rapidly, the layers of limestone interspersed with shale are very unstable and falls are common. The path is continually having to be moved back and at more than one point I was wondering if there was anything solid underneath us at all.

The views though are magnificent. The cave visible in the middle of the shot is at Tresillian and you can just see the lighthouse at Nash Point above the trees in the far distance.

Looking down gives super views of the limestone pavement that this stretch of coastline is justifiably famous for.

So on to Castle Ditches. This is very hard to see from the ground. The remains of the fort are buried in dense vegetation and part has been lost to the sea. 

It is obvious whether you are crossing the embankments and ditches but because of the undergrowth just about impossible to see the extent.

However our objective was the hill fort at Summerhouse Point. This turned out to be further away than anticipated ....

...and there it is  - yes also buried under dense vegetation! This is a semi aerial view taken from the Seawatch centre. This is a converted Coastguard station and we were very lucky to find it open  - it often isn't.  We were greeted with enthusiasm by the volunteer on duty and treated to a tour of the navigation and meteorological instruments housed there as well as shown some of the fossils and other marine detritus collected from that stretch of the coastline.

The hill fort itself is also being lost to the sea and has never been excavated. It is ( so I'm told!) semi circular and dated from around 700BCE to 100CE. It is mooted that it was just a look out point rather than having been inhabited but without an excavation it cannot be proven one was or the other.

The fort  gets  its name form the octagonal tower which was built by the Seys family in around 1730. The views must have been spectacular but today it survives as an ivy clad ruin.

You may need to take my word for it that there is indeed a building under there!

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