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| The Berth |
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|Description ||A view of the Berth c. 300 BC seen from the same Baschurch to Weston Lullingfields road vantage point.
Hill forts were for the upper echelons of ancient Briton society; for the chieftains and the kings and queens; for the noblemen and noblewomen or for the warrior class. They would have lived in roundhouses at this time; kept warm by wattle and daub walls and a thatched roof. This kind of dwellings had already been around for quite some time and had certainly proved its durability against the British elements. The reconstructed roundhouses at Castell Henllys in South Wales have withstood winds of up to 110 mph (170 kph) and other reconstructions have proved that they withstand rain perfectly well. It's estimated that they would have lasted between 10 and 20 years, depending on the owners and the type of ground they stood upon. We know from other similar sites how they may have been laid out, but even with archaeology it's hard to tell just how many dwellings existed at the same time. It's was difficult for us to calculate how many may have been at the Berth because roundhouses could be anywhere from 15 to 50 feet wide (4.6 to 15.3 meters) and up to 27 feet high (8.3 meters). No one knows how many dwelling there would have been in the Berth's main enclosure as there hasn't been enough archaeology done on the site, but we calculate it could have contained up to 9 or 10, although it has been known for other very high status sites to have only between 1 and 3. (The limited archaeological digs of the 60's only found evidence of one roundhouse).
Outside the roundhouses would be granaries and storage pits. Apart from small cultivation plots for each roundhouse, the farming was done by the farmsteads outside the fort. They paid their dues to their lords and in return got protection.
Let the sunshine in...
Of the roundhouses discovered at other sites, nearly all have their entrances facing to the east or southeast - the direction of the rising sun on the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. A few face the exactly the opposite way, i.e. west or northwest. Why? Archaeologists aren't sure, but one of the theories is that these belonged to a chieftain or similar high-ranking person. He may have sat with his back towards the rising sun - the source of power.
(Of course, when I say, "roundhouses discovered", I mean the postholes left by them. No one can be certain as to exactly how they looked, but trial and era at such places as Castell Henllys have come up with the best guess answers).
Night and day, you are the one for me...
The layout of the interiors seems to be very precise with different quarters being used for different functions and the two halves divided into day and night uses moving in a clockwise direction. (It's interesting to note that, for the 'Celts', the day began when it got dark and the year began in November).
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