Barbury Castle – Wiltshire, England - Atlas Obscura

Barbury Castle

This strategically placed hill fort has served defensive forces from the Iron Age up until the 20th century. 


Barbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort located in Wiltshire England. From its perch, it overshadows Swindon and the Wessex Downs. On a clear day it offers panoramic views to places as far away as the Cotswolds and the River Severn.

The fort is one of the many lining the ancient Ridgeway trackway. People first used the site about 2,500 years ago. Back then, looming defense towers would have capped its ramparts, as its location made it a prime spot for scouting out the surrounding landscape.

Romans claimed Barbury Castle after they invaded the British Isles. Archaeologists have found evidence suggesting the Romans either filled the hill with a small settlement or used it to house their military. After their eventual departure, the fort fell under the domain of Wessex, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom.

The fort served a military purpose once again in the 20th century. During World War II, American forces and members of the U.K.’s Home Guard who were stationed nearby used the ruins as a training ground. Their presence left its mark. The troops widened the Iron Age structure’s original entrances to fit their trucks inside.

Other than a couple of nearby farms, there is no current settlement near the site. A replica Iron Age house was built atop the hill in 2006, but sadly, vandals destroyed it a mere two years later. During the winter, the hill is common meeting place for people from the local stargazing society.

Know Before You Go

There is a great parking area adjacent to the site with a block of toilets. During winter, access limited from sunrise to sunset.

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