Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 39: May-Jun 1985

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











The Hambleton Hill Neolithic Fortress

Hambleton Hill sits astride the Stour River in the chalklands of southwestern England. Almost 6,000 years ago, Neolithic people began erecting a great funeral center and fortress here. When the ramparts were complete, they were visible for miles. The southern and western sides were rimmed by a timber-framed rampart 2,500 meters long. The northern flank was protected by a 1,200meter multiditch outwork.

"A Neolithic herdsman who looked up to the hilltop in about 3,400 BC would have seen an impressive site. Crowning Hambleton Hill was a huge defensive enclosure with three concentric ramparts. The inner rampart, the most formidable of the three, was supported by 10,000 oak beams as thick as telephone poles. In the ditch around the ramparts human skulls placed at intervals added an eerie note to the appearance of the fortifications."

Such a construction feat must have taken considerable organization and community energy, much like the pyramids then under construction in Egypt. In the absence of stone quarries and with plenty of forests, Hambleton Hill's fortress was simple wood and dirt, but nonetheless very impressive. Even its great size, however, did not save it from conquest and burning.

(Mercer, R.J.; "A Neolithic Fortress and Funeral Center," Scientific America,, 252:94, March 1985.)

Reference. To learn more about ancient British hill forts, read our Handbook Ancient Man. Details here.

From Science Frontiers #39, MAY-JUN 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987