Maiden Castle is thought to have been an Iron Age farmstead. The Iron Age in Britain lasted from 800BC to 43AD.
The physical remains of Maiden Castle include an 80m diameter circular ditch with banks both inside and outside. If you imagine the ditch to be deeper and the banks higher and topped with a fence, you will have an idea of how this farmstead may once have looked.
Within the ditch are two low mounds adjacent to two sunken areas. These are probably two hut platforms and two livestock paddocks. A family group of 25-30 people probably lived here. The fenced area was semi-fortified to keep the animals and inhabitants safe from rustlers at night. The animals were let out onto surrounding land during the day, a similar system to that of an African “boma” in which animals are secured within a fenced area at night.
In the Iron Age, this area of Britain would have consisted of scattered farming communities, much as the more rural parts of Cumbria do today. There is evidence of similar farmsteads nearby. One is 4.5 Km to the north west of Maiden Castle, near Stainton and another is 1.5 Km to the north west on Soulby Fell. There are others near Askham.
We don’t have an artist’s impression of what Maiden Castle may have looked like when it was occupied but this Artist’s Impression of the Thorpe Thewles Iron Age Settlement in NE England may give us an idea.
Maiden Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument
By Joe Ridley of Matterdale and Jane Firth of Watermillock
MAIDEN CASTLE - GRID REF - NY 450 243
Artist’s Reconstruction of the Thorpe Thewles Iron Age Settlement c. 200 - Courtesy of www.teesarchaeology.com