Friday, March 2, 2012
Unto These Hills
Furnaces reaching temperatures of around 2800 degree Fahrenheit were needed to melt iron from ferrous ores. Special drafts from blowpipes and bellows were needed, and the use of charcoal in shaft furnaces helped things along. From common oxide ores, the production of iron was accomplished. These developments seemed to center in Anatolia, and greatly advanced by the Hittites. Of course the Hittites past their knowledge along to those folks who became known as the Celts.
By around 800 BC these Celts began their exploration and settlement of the area which was to become Wales. This new material produced some of the most destructive weapons of the day. What was one to do? The widespread replacement of bronze produced a new strategy for survival. The "Hillfort" it was called.
The drawings above are my attempt to try and visualize this environment. These fortifications helped defend the farms, and settlements of what was to become Wales, The Marches, and Northern Britain. A ditch and wall to stand behind was the principle. Throw things down, not throw things up. Drawing labeled #1 is the simple plan. Let the enemy come to you. Let them climb up a slop A, to fall down to the ditch B, while facing a sharp wall C, and the wooden defensive wall D. Stand behind D, and throw down on those helpless folks trying to throw upward some 10 - 16 feet. Wow, nice plan if your standing at the top looking down. Drawing #2 gives a little more sense of the depth A to B, to C. Sketch # 3 tries to show a lateral view with the platform and wall. Stone could also be used for the wall. There could be many, many ditches and walls constructed around the hill top.
Ring the bell, and come. Save yourself...come unto these hills.
A wonderful reference is The Iron Age Hillforts of England, A Visitor's Guide, by Geoffrey Williams, Horace Books, 1993.