Bigbury Camp

Iron Age Hillfort

This  Iron-Age Hillfort enclosure (now tree-covered) had a single rampart (now only 2.5m high) and ditch (5m wide) with a counterscarp bank where necessary. A Hill Fort that is generally recognized as the site of Caesar’s first engagement with the Britons in 54 BC. It was stormed by the Legio VII Claudia under the command of Julius Caesar who described how the entrances to the fort were barricaded with felled trees.

The entrance to W is now damaged, but the E is strong with extra defences. To N is an annexe that may have been a cattle enclosure. Finds include: IA Pottery, agricultural implements, firedogs, chariot and horse accoutrements and a 5.5m long chain with slave-collars and a padlock. The site is thought to be a fort attacked by Julius Caesar and legio VII in 54BC, when the troops found the entrances blocked with tree-trunks, and had to build a causeway across the ditch.

A large number of metal artefacts have been recovered during gravel quarrying in the 19th century. The finds are remarkable both for their diversity and their sheer quantity, and include fire-dogs, pot-hooks, horse-harness fittings, ploughshares and various tools. It has been suggested that the profusion of domestic evidence is indicative of a hurried evacuation in the face of a strong enemy opposition, and the finding of an iron chain-gang bearing a “barb-spring” padlock of Roman manufacture suggests that the fort was abandoned during the 43AD invasion of Kent and south-east England.

References for Bigbury

  • Article Ironwork Hoards in Iron Age and Roman Britain by W.H. Manning in Britannia III (1972) pp.224-250

Map References for Bigbury – Harbledown, Kent

NGRef: TR116576 OSMap: LR179