We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Amazing when you think about it...”
Review of Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle
Ranked #4 of 47 things to do in Dorchester
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed October 25, 2012

This massive earthwork just south of Dorchester is so huge it only looks like a hill as you approach. Persevere with your walk or drive though, and you will find yourself marvelling at an intricate labyrinth of hill gates and steep cuttings that will blow your mind. If you wanted to build it nowadays, it would take an army of JCB's many years! Countless generations of Durotriges (Celts) built this amazing structure before the Romans came in and took it by force. There are some information boards in the car park at the foot of the hill which give a reasonable amount of information, but if you want to find out more, combine your visit with a trip to the County Museum in town, which has a brilliant video (narrated by Magnus Magnusson) and loads of fabulous artefacts. Maiden Castle itself is a rugged reminder of our ancient heritage and well worth a good walk. Take your dog as many people do, but keep an eye out for which areas are being grazed by sheep if you want to let him off the lead. It is a strangely wonderful place, free to visit and easy to park at. There are no facilities; the nearest loos are at Tesco or in town about a mile away. It is a bit sad that the Dorchester bypass runs nearby as it used to be a lot more atmospheric without the constant whoosh of traffic, but it is not invasive and you may sit and ponder here for many hours in summer. It is a very exposed site, so wrap up warm against the wind that whistles up from the coast just a few miles away, but it's hardly Dartmoor or The Peaks so you shouldn't be needing mountain rescue if it clouds over! In all, a great place to recharge your batteries, get some fresh air and meet a few friendly dog walkers. I'd give this place a much higher rating if they put a little visitor centre with loos there, but then, it probably wouldn't be free any more!

3  Thank Helsbiggerpicture
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (310)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
All reviews
"iron age hill fort"
in 22 reviews
"roman temple"
in 19 reviews
"english heritage"
in 18 reviews
"information boards"
in 25 reviews
"car park"
in 47 reviews
"sheep grazing"
in 6 reviews
"great walk"
in 13 reviews
"kite flying"
in 5 reviews
"huge site"
in 5 reviews
"dog walkers"
in 8 reviews
"up hill"
in 4 reviews
"steep walk"
in 4 reviews
"an iron"
in 5 reviews
"surrounding countryside"
in 9 reviews
"walking boots"
in 4 reviews
"ancient history"
in 5 reviews
"superb views"
in 4 reviews

290 - 294 of 310 reviews

Reviewed October 19, 2012

Owned by English Heritage, but not promoted in any way, this is a popular place to visit by locals and tourists alike. Covers a vast area and views from the top are great. Largest Iron Age fort in Western Europe.

Thank DorsetNinja
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 10, 2012

Pick a good day, because if its raining or windy then your are going to get wet, cold and/or muddy. Its and easy walk, albeit one over uneven ground and up and down through fortification. Good place for kids to run off steam yet also learn about both British iron age and Roman history. Interesting for adults and great walk through the Dorchester countryside.

Thank Tomandben
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 28, 2012

Amazing place - huge moats and protective barriers with fairly easy access from the car park. It is very changed from when I used to visit as a child in the 50s but still seems huge even now.

Thank Devongreysurfers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
See more reviews
Reviewed September 25, 2012

Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) south west of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. It lies off the main A35 trunk road and is well sign-posted. You need to turn towards the town cente at the A354 roundabout (to Weymouth and Portland Bill). Shortly afterwards you turn sharp left into, not surprisingly, Maiden Castle Road and follow this until you reach the car park at the end. There are no facilities there. If you are not fit it’s a long, stiff climb, unsuitable for wheelchairs and there are several “kissing gates” along the path as sheep now graze there – incidentally helping to keep the grass under control! The views from the top are stunning! Poundbury, now a suburb of the Town, shows up very clearly. Be careful in the grass at the top as it can be uneven. You have been warned but it’s well worth the effort.
Historical note:
Hill forts were fortified hill-top settlements constructed across Britain during the Iron Age. The name Maiden Castle may be a modern reference meaning that the hill fort looks impregnable but I prefer the interpretation that it derives from the British Celtic mai-dun, meaning a "great hill."
The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the site consists of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and bank barrow. It was built in about 600 BC; the early phase was a simple, unremarkable site, similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering 6.4 hectares (16 acres). Around 450 BC it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was nearly tripled in size to 19 ha (47 acres), making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions the largest in Europe. At the same time, Maiden Castle's defences were made more complex with the addition of further ramparts and ditches to create twists and turns more easily defendable. Around 100 BC habitation at the hill fort went into decline and became focused at the eastern end of the site. It was occupied until Roman times, when the resident Durotriges, (Celtic) tribe were moved out to the nearby town of what is now Dorchester.

1  Thank Escutcheon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Maiden Castle also viewed


Been to Maiden Castle? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing