Lodge Hill Fort/Lodge Wood Camp
Caerleon, South Wales
Just outside Caerleon, not on the walking route around Caerleon, and not on the normal tourist trail, you will find an Iron Age hill fort known as Lodge Hill Fort/Lodge Wood Camp.
This encloses an area 400 metres by 200 metres, with ramparts 19 metres, or 30 feet high in places, but quite a large area of it is woods now.
The Romans built a road from the North Gate of Caerleon right up to the fort and used the hill top as a summer camp.
The hill fort was built between 600 and 300BC, has evidence of wooden structures, metalwork, and possibly post Roman occupation. Some claim that this was the stronghold of Beli, King of Britain, others that it was the base of the Silures, a tribe the Romans had difficulty in defeating and controlling. It was common practice for the Romans to place a roman settlement on low land near to the existing settlement and set this up as the administrative regional capital for the area of the local tribe. The walled Roman City of Venta Silurum (Caerwent), now Caerleon, became the administrative centre and capital of the Silures. The Romans needed the co-operation of the Silures - the cost of maintaining a large garrison in the area was enormous and supplying the many remote forts was difficult. This became one of the main roman sites in the UK.
A footpath follows the ramparts on the South side, and a bridleway traces an ancient track through the centre of the site. A free leaflet, produced by Newport County Borough Council, is available in Caerleon's Tourist Office with details of the walk to reach this site, this would have most likely have been the site used by locals before the Romans arrived, and I haven't seen any suggestion or fortification after they left.
Some have suggested this site was connected with King Arthur, but there is no evidence on this site of either later fortification or occupation in the time he is thought to have been around. If he was in this area it is more likely that he was based within the developments from the roman town or possibly the castle in Caerleon. This site is not as far from the Wessex region where most think he was based as many imagine, its a short boat ride from here to either Gloucester or Bristol. There are many safe places along the route Gloucester, Cirencester, Cricklade, and Malmesbury were all walled towns. The scale of the defences at Lodge Hill are more in line with hill forts found on or near major trackways and nothing like the scale of Cadbury, Old Sarum or Maiden Castle.
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