Dorset’s Archaeology in 150 Words #10: The Iron Age Trading Site of Hengistbury Head

Around 700BC, a settlement was established at Hengistbury Head; a headland dominating the southern side of Christchurch Harbour.

The Double Dykes, a pair of banks and ditches, were constructed to provide defence to the settlement. Through excavations and investigations on the site, lead, copper and silver working is evident. It is also likely that gold was worked here. Pre-Roman bronze coins, many of the Durotriges tribe, have been uncovered in their thousands close to hearths and smelting remains suggesting the site was a mint.

Hengistbury Head became a significant Late Iron Age port which tradied worked metal of iron, silver, and bronze from the sites large-scale metal industry in return for goods such as wine, glass, tools and other ‘exotic’ goods. Finds of Armorican coins and pottery demonstrate links to Brittany. Amphorae used for the transportation of North Italian wine have been found in higher quantities than any other comparable site in southern England.

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