Eight miles west from Appleton, along the A420, is a little known and unique Iron Age fort.
It is unique in that it is a classic “hill fort” – but built on low land. It is the largest of all the local forts - over nine acres in area. It is built on the slightest of sandy hills in an area of boggy land – this may have provided protected for the fort.
It had a paved and gated eastern entrance with triple - banked defences to the south – suggesting that this was an important place. It is thought that the eastern entrance – facing the rising sun was good, a symbol of light and life. The north entrance is modern.
It was studied briefly in 1939 and a geophysical survey was done in 2007. It was lived in from the late Iron Age into the early Roman time. The remains of roundhouses – about 10m across, storage pits, hearths and other features of domestic life have been found.
Some of these forts were ceremonial sites e.g. Uffington – where there is little evidence of domestic life. Others such as Cherbury and Segsbury (on the Ridgeway above Wantage) have abundant evidence of domestic use. The main occupants are now badgers.
Legends link the site to King Cnut and the Pusey Horn – an ancient silvered ox horn held for many centuries in Pusey House but now in the Victoria & Albert Museum. This horn was a symbol of land ownership, the equivalent of deeds, given by King Cnut to William Pusey.
Although it is just half a mile off the A420, beyond Kingston Bagpuize, it is simplest to visit the fort from Charney Basset. A good footpath runs from the Buckland Road north for a mile to the fort. The Chequers Inn is a handy pub.
John Evans for AwEHG.