Home of Hillforts & Henges returns in 2023, celebrating Dorchester’s Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Age heritage from July 28th to July 30th. The festival invites visitors to explore the ancient landscapes that have shaped the town for over 6,000 years.
Dorchester proudly holds the title of ‘the Home of Hillforts & Henges’ due to its significant historical sites. Before the town’s establishment, the region served as the centre of a major Neolithic ceremonial landscape.
Within Dorchester, four impressive henges and two formidable hillforts stand as testaments to its rich heritage.
One of the remarkable sites is the Dorchester Neolithic Monument, one of Britain’s largest. Located in the Tudor Arcade, its vast palisaded enclosure features signs of huge wooden posts and a curving ditch.
Maumbury Rings, constructed over 4,500 years ago, served as a giant henge with a single entrance and possible standing stone. The Romans later re-purposed it as an amphitheatre by enhancing the banks and filling the inner ditch.
Flagstones, located just outside Dorchester, is a late Neolithic circular ring with chalk walls and unevenly spaced pits. It boasts a large sarsen stone, referred to as The Druid Stone by Thomas Hardy, which still stands in a garden.
Mount Pleasant, an oval Neolithic ‘superhenge,’ captivates visitors with its concentric rings of postholes and cross-shaped aisles.
Poundbury Hill encompasses evidence of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements, an Iron Age hillfort, and even a section of Roman aqueduct remains.
Maiden Castle, the largest Iron Age hillfort in Europe, stands proudly in the landscape just two miles south of Dorchester.
The South Dorset Ridgeway, nestled between Dorchester and Weymouth, hides more than 500 archaeological monuments and barrows, making it Europe’s finest funerary landscape.
Home of Hillforts & Henges 2023
Part of the National CBA Festival of Archaeology, this year’s event offers an immersive experience for visitors. Guided walks, talks, and activities will take place across the town, culminating in the grand HengeFest at Maumbury Rings on July 30th. This free family day out within the ancient monument features trade stands, local food, live music, and engaging nature crafts, ensuring a fabulous day out for the whole family.
The festival is made possible by headline sponsors Kingston Maurward, Dorset Hideaways, and Dorchester Town Council, as well as other supportive partners and sponsors.
Don’t miss the opportunity to unravel the secrets of Dorchester’s ancient past at Home of Hillforts & Henges 2023. From July 28th to July 30th, immerse yourself in a journey through time and explore the wonders that shaped this remarkable town.