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Danebury Iron Age Hill Fort

Life at Danebury in the Iron Age

Life was short and harsh in the Iron Age. Predominantly a farming community, the people kept sheep and wove woollen cloth, kept cattle and made leather goods. As Danebury had few natural resources it relied on trade with other areas to obtain iron, tin, copper, salt, shale and stone. It is likely that woollen products and grain were traded in exchange for these.

The community of 300 to 400 people lived here for more than 400 years. During that time one of its main tasks may have been to protect livestock and grain from attack by raiding parties. Men, women and children may all have had to fight off invaders by hurling sling stones. Warriors fought with swords and sometimes used horse-drawn chariots.

At the highest point of the hill there were shrines and temples. Religion was important to the people who lived at Danebury. Their pagan belief was that the gods lived in rivers, trees or other natural features. They made offerings to the gods and sometimes sacrifices. Some of the burials uncovered at Danebury are thought to have been sacrificial. These rituals were carried out by the priests, known as druids, who were respected in the community and acted as a link between the people and their gods. They were also law makers, teachers, story-tellers and medicine men.

Beneath the modern fields lie the remains of smaller ancient or 'Celtic' fields. Aerial archaeology has allowed us to map these systems, which appear as 'crop marks' or different colours in the soil. It shows that the farmed prehistoric landscape was just as busy as that of today.

 
Iron Age pottery