Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Hill Forts

Hill Forts, in a specific sense, are the strongholds of the primitive inhabitants of various European countries, many of which are of prehistoric origin. They are usually more or less circular, the precise form of the fort or forts being determined in each case by the nature of the ground. Sometimes, when surrounding hills afforded sufficient protection, the fort itself was not placed on a summit but in a lower position, affording readier access to the neighbouring meadows and pastures. Often a line of forts was made, enclosing the whole of the upper part of a hill, which thus became a little citadel or town; in fact the name of oppida was given by the Romans to the fortresses which they found in Gaul. In some countries, as for example England, earthworks are commoner than stoneworks; in Wales, on the other hand, stone is the usual material. The Gallic forts were built of dry-stone masonry, strengthened by the insertion of thick logs of wood, and the same method of construction was employed at Buryhead in the north of Scotland - a country in which hill forts or "dunes" (q.v.) are exceedingly common. The largest fort in England is that at Cissbury in Sussex, which extends over 60 acres. In Ireland there are large stone forts on the Isles of Arran and elsewhere. Of the vitrefaction observable on the surface of the walls in France, Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, and elsewhere no satisfactory explanation has as yet been given.