Dragon Hill & Uffington Castle

Uffington

Dragon Hill, Uffington Castle & The Manger

Dragon Hill is a natural hill, flattened by man, that may once have been connected to White Horse Hill. It could have been the site of a fort commanding access to the hill fort, or a religious site, where rituals of good over evil, or day over night, took place.

There are a number of myths about the hill; that it was the site of St George slaying the dragon; that the dragon’s blood drained from its body and poisoned the ground so that grass will not grow on that spot; the dragon is buried under the hill; Uter Pendragon, father of King Arthur, is buried beneath the hill.

The Manger is the largest and most spectacular of several dry coombs. The ripples on the western side known as “giants’ steps” were created by head erosion (cutting back at source of a stream) of a series of springs. The V has been incised deeper by ice and melt water during ice age thaws.

Mythically, the White Horse leaves the slopes of its hill once a year to feed in the manger at night.

Uffington Castle is one of a chain of hill forts along this section of the Ridgeway, – Segsbury, Rams’ Hill, Uffington, Liddington, and Barbary. It is a univalate hillfort, ie of single ditch, single rampart design, with an interior area of approximately 8 acres. Originally there were two entrances, the western (remaining) one and an eastern one filled in during the Roman period. NE and SE entrances are probably Roman.

Built approximately around 500 BC, it had ramparts topped with a wooden palisade, replaced by a sarsen stone wall around 300 BC. The ditch , originally 10 ft deeper than at present, has been partly filled with stones from the wall which was pushed down during the Roman period. The fort was only used temporarily or seasonally, and probably a meeting place, animal corral, ritual centre, or Ridgeway travellers’ stop. Artefacts discovered during archaeological digs in the 1990s suggest that usage increased during the Roman period. There is no water on the hill, although it is possible that clay lined ponds were constructed, but have all been ploughed out.

The white 4ft obelisk on the eastern outer bank of the fort is a trig point, which marks the highest point in Oxfordshire, – 858ft. It is one of 25,000 used before the advent of satellite surveying, to map the country. This trig point is one of a small number still in use by the Ordnance Survey, and is a known trig point from which GPS can be tracked. The distance between this trig point and the one at Liddington Castle formed the standard distance from which imperial Ordnance Survey maps were scaled.

 

WHITE HORSE HILL

Admission Free
Open all year
Large car park (Paid)
Disabled parking available close to the White Horse
Dogs on leads
English Heritage / National Trust Property
More information on
www.english-heritage.org.uk

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