Find a fort in the South West

From castles to hillforts, there are defences to discover across the South West.

Uncovering hidden secrets

Crickley Hill 

The archaeological remains at Crickley Hill all point to a long and violent history. Recent archaeological excavations have revealed a brutal history. Although little remains today, there's evidence that people lived on the hilll from the early Neolithic Period right up until the fifth century AD.

Visitors at the Badbury Rings at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Badbury Rings 

There's evidence of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation at Badbury Rings, but it's best known for the Iron Age hill fort with its three rings. There are Roman roads passing by, and Bronze Age burial mounds.

Frosty morning on Eggardon Hill

Eggardon Hill

This hill fort is about 2,500 years old, but originally there were two Bronze Age burial mounds on the summit. It's also an old smuggling spot - in the 18th century, Isaac Gulliver took advantage of the hill's commanding position and created a small plantation of trees to act as a landmark for his ships and help guide them to the coast.

A path on the grassy ramparts of Pilsdon Pen

Pilsdon Pen

Pilsdon has a long history of occupation. Flint tools over 10,000 years old and two Bronze Age burial mounds are evidence that the site was in use long before the hill fort was built. Like the other hill forts in Dorset, Pilsdon was abandoned after the Roman conquest, after which it's thought that it was used for rough grazing, much as it is today.

Walking along Hambledon Hill

Hambledon Hill

Hambledon Hill's human history predates Stonehenge. It is considered one of Britain's earliest prehistoric settlements. Explore the ramparts, ditches and terraces and you'll be retracing the footsteps of people who lived, feasted, fought and were buried on this extraordinary site.

Brean Down

Brean Down

The Down stands 97m high and looks out over the Bristol Channel towards south Wales and over the Somerset Levels. Uncover the secrets of Brean Down as you discover the site of a Roman temple and explore the Palmerston Fort, the 1870s gun battery built to ward of a French invasion that never materialised.

Second World War concrete dragon's teeth defences at Studland Beach, Dorset

Studland Beach

Studland Beach was used as a training area for troops before D-Day. Follow the Second World War walk and spot the Fort Henry observation bunker and devices built to foil a German invasion such as ‘dragon’s teeth’ anti-tank defences and pill boxes.

The Coastwatch station at Froward Point in Devon

Brownstone Battery 

Brownstone Battery, not far from Coleton Fishacre, is one of the few surviving Second World War coastal defence positions. Hidden amongst the trees you'll come across a collection of fascinating buildings, including the gun and searchlight positions.

View of the ruins from West Hill at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle

The Normans knew that the natural chalk mound of Corfe in Purbeck is an ideal strategic position, so created a castle motte there. It withstood siege in the 12th century, but Corfe’s capture during the English Civil War was its death knell as a stronghold. The parliamentary soldiers undermined the walls and turrets, set gunpowder charges and blew it to bits, creating the picturesque ruin we see today.

Looking down to the castle from the keep

Dunster Castle

Dramatically sited on a wooded hill, a castle has existed here since at least Norman times, with an impressive medieval gatehouse and ruined tower giving a reminder of its turbulent history.

View of the south & east fronts of Montacute House


Dating back to Norman times, Montacute (meaning steep hill in Norman) was unsuccessfully stormed by the Saxons in the 11th century. Once peace was established in the 12th century, its Norman lord gave the land to Montacute Priory. The monks had no need for the castle and used the hill top as a chapel. Only an 18th century prospect tower remains on the summit now.