The hillfort is situated to the north of Caerleon and sits on a narrow ridge overlooking the River Usk, with views across the Severn Estuary, and Caerleon itself.
The site dates from around 600 BC-300 BC
Includes double ramparts except to the south west, where there are quadruple ramparts. Defended on the south, west and north by a series of banks and ditches with some of the banks still standing to between 4-5 meters. The eastern side is defended by a bank measuring 4-5 meters high. To the north the scarp is 6-8 meters high with a 5 meter berm. The ditches measure approximately 1 meter deep and 2 meters wide. At some time the defences were modified and include upright timber lacing to the earth and stone bank. There is evidence that a section of the defences were slighted, and this could have been during the time the Romans were fighting the Silures.
The entrance, which was excavated in 2000, is located on the western side and is defended by a tumulus. It is narrow and there is evidence of a ramp leading into the hill fort which cuts through the bank. This ramp is believed to be post-Roman.
The whole site encloses just over two hectares, measuring 280 meters by between 50 – 100 meters, with a small enclosure at the western side. Trees now cover the entire site.
The hillfort is linked to the Roman fort at Caerleon by a small road which is believed to have been constructed by the Romans.
Evidence shows that the hillfort was reoccupied for a short time in the 5th century.
Lodge Hill Camp was excavated in 2000 by the University of Wales, Newport. Seven post holes were uncovered within the interior and these were found to belong to a sub-rectangular building. No hearth was identified which points to the building that once stood there as having been used for storage or animals. There is also ample evidence to suggest that the people who occupied the site were traders.
Finds from the site include
The site sits within the territory of the Silure Tribe, and they really gave the Romans a run for their money! Battles and guerrilla warfare kept the Romans on their toes for a while. The Silures even managed a victory against a Roman Legion.
In the year 270 the Romans left the area and there is evidence that Lodge Hill Camp was reoccupied for a while and there is also Romano-British activity nearby. The archaeological evidence is in the form of 3rd to 4th century pottery sherds.
Lodge Hill Camp is believed by some to have been the stronghold of Beli, King of Britain
‘The site of an ancient town or fortress in question may be recognized in the old encampment in Lantarnum Park, a mile to the north west of the present Caerleon: observing, that although it might have been first known as Caer-Leon, in compliment to Beli, it afterwards received that of Bellingstoke; a title which it still retains. Churchyard speaks of it to that effect, describing it as a most tremendous fortification, and adding, that, “Belinus Magnus made this be called Bellingstoke”’ (Donovan 1805).
And as seen in the title, this has given the alternative name of Bellingstoke and Bellingstock. We do not know what its original name was, but,
‘The name of Lodge Hill is of constant occurrence (there are as many as three examples in Buckinghamshire alone) and seems usually to refer to the existence upon the hill-top of some kind of enclosure or building. Sometimes, perhaps, this was a beacon tower, more often probably a hunter’s lodge…’ (Allcroft 1908).
There is also the legend that Lodge Hill was associated with King Arthur. The first mention we have of this is in 1801 where it was put forward as the site of Camelot.
Here we have a poem from Donovan (1805) relating to the suggestion that the site was Camelot,
‘A hill most notable neere Carleon, a myle from the town:- a very high hill of a marveilous strength, which was a strong fort in Arthur’s daies”
“Ten thousand men, may lodge them there unseene,
In treble dykes, that gards the fortresse well:
And yet amid, the fort a goodly greene,
Where that a power, and mightie camp may dwell;
In spite of world, if soldiers victual have.
* * * *
* * * *
The hill commands a marvels way and scope,
It seems it stood, farre off for townes defence,
And in the warres, it was Caerleon’s hope:-‘
(Churchyard, cited in Donovan 1805).
Lodge Hill Camp is an interesting site and one which still holds on to its history. Let’s hope that in the future more investigation can give us a more complete insight into its past and the people who once inhabited it.
References & Bibliography.
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