‘Do all the roads and finds of Badbury Rings lead to Rome?’

August 13, 2018

LOOKING DOWN: This is an aerial shot of the Late Iron Age fort at Badbury Rings. Five years of archaeological surveys of the fort were done by the RCHME between 1993 and 1997. Picture courtesy of Kevin Jakeman.


FENCED OFF: This fence is part of the point-to-point course that encircles a freshly cut field of hay stacks. The point-to-point has two meets a year.

WELL MANAGED: These rare-breed Ruby Red Cattle are used by the Kingston Lacy to graze the land around the fort as part of their conservation of the site for wildlife.

SOUTH FACING: This is the view from the conifer-planted roof of the fort looking out towards Pampthill and beyond to Wimborne.


ROMAN RELICS: Another drone view of the fort. A geophysical survey of the fort found it covered 25 hectares and appears to have been one of the biggest Roman towns in Dorset, second after Dorchester. Is this the town of Vindocladia mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary listed between Old Sarum and Dorchester? Picture by Kevin Jakeman.


TREE-MENDOUS: This is the beech avenue that runs along the B3082 between Blandford and Wimborne and is where the turn-off to Badbury Rings lies. These are some of the 731 trees planted by aristrocrat William John Bankes in 1835.



ONE of Dorset’s lesser-known historical monuments lies on the backdrop of the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Badbury Rings is part of the Kingston Lacy National Trust estate just outside of Wimborne. It was previously privately owned and visiting it was discouraged. The origins of the Iron Age fort stand 327 metres above sea level and was of strategic importance to the people of that time.

‘Original fort settlers put up resistance to Roman invaders’

Badbury Rings is the fifth of a series of Iron Age earthworks that also include Hod Hill, Buzbury Rings, Spetisbury Rings and Dudsbury Camp. The rings consist of three concentric rings of a bank and ditch construction, dug to a depth of 20 ft.

The fort is reputed to have been constructed by the Durotriges Tribe who were amongst the first of the locals to put up stiff opposition to the invading Roman emperor Vespasian and his 2nd Legion.

Surveys of the fort were carried out by Royal Commission of the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) in 1993 and took five years to complete. The summit area was cleared by the National Trust one year before the surveys finished and the conifer plantation was thinned out.

‘Artefacts date back to the Iron Age’

Twenty-eight hut foundations were found within the ramparts and excavations carried out by Martin Papworth showed that pottery remains, tesserae, iron works and robber trenches located there dated back to the Late Iron Age.
It has been speculated by some as evidence of a Roman settlement called Vindocladia, that was one of the biggest Roman towns of its day in Dorset.

Like the Somerset town of Glastonbury and recorded in The Vintage News, Badbury Rings has its Arthurian links as some are convinced that the Rings were the place that King Arthur fought his greatest battle against the Saxons. The similarity between the names Badon and Badbury are the basis of such assumptions.

On other subjects aside from the monument, Badbury Rings lies next to one of east Dorset’s local point-to-point venues and this time of year has shown the race course in its magnificence with old-style straw stacks waiting to be collected by the local farmers.

‘Rings have vantage point across the county’

About two and a half miles south east of the monument at Badbury Rings lies a fort established at Lake Farm near Wimborne and from there a military road was built from there which passed the north-east at Badbury Rings. It was said to be heading in a north west direction to the former Roman fort at Hod Hill.

Just like with contributions to pieces written on RSPB Arne and Corfe Castle, amateur photographer Kevin Jakeman has kindly provided these stunning still photos from drone footage taken at the rings.

The Beech Avenue of trees was planted in 1835 by the former owner of Kingston Lacy House William John Bankes. The trees were said to be an extravagant gift from Bankes to his mother Frances, with 365 trees on one side of road for every day of the year and 366 on the other side to represent a leap year.

  • IT is free admittance to visit the Rings and take a walk to look out on the edge of the Cranborne Chase. It is free for National Trust members to park but not non-members who would need to purchase a parking ticket.

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