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Danebury Iron Age Hill Fort

The Danebury defences

Danebury was a well-defended site. The first stage of the construction of the hillfort was to dig a ditch and using this earth to build a rampart. When first constructed, there would have been a timber wall at the front of the rampart. Once the timbers had rotted however, there would have been a continuous slope or 'glacis' from the top of the bank to the bottom of the ditch. Later it was altered into a defence with a partially in filled and flat-topped ditch.

Originally the fort had two entrances, but the west gate was filled in during the period of occupation and the east entrance became the main gate to the fort. Excavation has shown that there were nine phases of gate construction and that over the centuries an outer gate and hornwork were added.

Reconstruction drawing of east gate defences

Approaching the main entrance, attackers would be forced to zig-zag towards the inner gate and would have been an easier target for those defending the fort. The main weapon of this period was the sling and a stockpile of 11,000 river pebbles was found in a pit next to the gate. Fire would have been another effective weapon. For close fighting an Iron Age warrior would have worn a helmet, carried a shield and iron sword. Spears were also used in the early stages of a battle, as were chariots.