Largest Iron Age earthwork in Britain possibly identified at the site of a Norman fortification

largest-iron-age-earthwork-britain_1Credit: Dr Jim Leary

Skipsea Castle was a Norman motte and bailey construction (relatively rudimentary fortification with a keep built upon a raised earthwork) located near Skipsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The mound within this castle scope was previously thought to be laid down in 1086 AD, by Drogo de la Bouerer, the Flemish associate to William the Conqueror. But on analysis of the soil from the earthwork’ core revealed a much older date pertaining to around 1500 BC, thus hinting at its founding during the Iron Age.

The mound in question here boasts an extensive area with 278 ft (85 m) in diameter, which equates to more than the area of an American football field. The area is complemented by 42 ft (13 m) in height, thus accounting for an impressive volume of over 2.5 million cubic ft. As Dr Jim Leary, from the University of Reading, who headed the excavation, said (to BBC) –

We have a pristine, untouched, Iron Age monument. It’s the largest Iron Age mound in Britain and there it was hiding from us in plain sight. The key question now is what was this mound used for? Was it a burial mound? Is it comparable to some of the really big burial mounds in Germany and Switzerland and eastern France of that period? If so, that’s really significant.

Relating to the last part of the statement, the Heuneburg site in Germany boasts a massive Celtic citadel (from circa 600 BC) that rises steeply 40 m (131 ft) above the Danube river. But interestingly enough, when in comes to sheer size, the mighty Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (England), with its enormous 39.6 m (130 ft) height, is possibly the largest man-made mound in Europe; though the structure dates from the Late Neolithic – Early Bronze Age era. And coincidentally, Dr Leary had played his crucial role in carrying out the assessment of this gargantuan earthwork that was probably laid down a century before the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.


Credit: University of Reading.

Source: BBC

1 Comment on "Largest Iron Age earthwork in Britain possibly identified at the site of a Norman fortification"

  1. So do they dig it up? If so I cant wait to see just what treasures are found.

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