Maidens Castle

   A castle in Arthurian romance said to contain young women, generally as prisoners. Duke Lianour ruled it, but seven brothers slew him and took it over. They in turn fell at the hands of three of Arthur's knights. In Geoffrey's Historia, Ebraucus, King of Britain, founded the Castle of Mount Agned which later became known as the Maidens Castle. Some have identified it with Edinburgh which, in the Middle Ages, was known as Castra Puellarum. But some of the stories concerning the castle can be construed to place it in the vicinity of Gloucester (the web favorite) or Carlisle or Gwynedd, depending upon how the information is interpreted.

Maidens Castle, Dorset

   One of the largest and most impressive hillforts of England. 'Maiden' is supposed to derive from the Celtic 'Mai Dun' which means 'great hill'. It is situated just 2 miles south of Dorchester in Dorset. Its ramparts enclose an area of 18 hectares (45 acres), and it is 2.5km (1.5mi) around the inner circumference. The earliest development of the site took place around 3000 BCE. In the late Neolithic period, a massive long barrow, over 545m (1788ft) in length, was constructed. About 450 BCE the hillfort was extended westwards and over the next hundred or so years, the ramparts and ditches were enlarged, with two complex entrances at the east and at the west of the hill.
    In the Iron Age, between 350 and 70 BCE, the site became a flourishing walled town with massive triple and double ramparts with the entrance through each bank offset to isolate any invader who managed to penetrate the defenses.
   In 43CE, the second Roman Legion under Vespasian, attacked the eastern gateway of the fort now occupied by the Durotriges tribe and succeeded in subjugating the population. By 70CE, the population had moved down into the new Roman town of Durnovaria, now Dorchester, and hillfort was deserted.
    One final development in the hillfort was the building of a small Romano-Celtic temple 12m (40ft) square, in the late fourth century CE. Its foundations are still visible in the north-east sector of the fort. For the most part, it seems to have been uninhabited after that time.
   Recent excavations have uncovered the bodies of 38 Iron Age warriors, buried with food and drink for their journey into the after life.