The hastily assembled team must have been daunted by their first sight of the overgrown and craggy hilltop, but at the end of six weeks few felt that the discomforts of October drought and November snow had been faced without reward.
The picture drawn by O'Neil is indeed beginning to change. It is now clear that the stone defences could be several centuries earlier than O'Neil supposed. The stamped pottery with which these walls are associated (Western 3rd B, in Professor Hawkes' scheme for the Iron Age) is found as early as the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. at more southerly sites like Croft Ambrey and Midsummer Hill, and the slightly 'involuted' iron brooch could certainly have reached the Breiddin by the mid-2nd century B.C.
More important, perhaps, is the newly discovered timber palisade, lying below the stone defence but on much the same line. Associated with it is pottery of a much coarser kind, more appropriate to Professor Hawkes' Iron A category. It is tempting to link both pottery and palisade with the fragments of Late Bronze Age metalwork found by O'Neil, and with two bronze pins found in superficial deposits in 1969. These pins have interesting parallels, the smaller in continental Hallstatt A and B contexts, the larger with a series of disc-headed or nail-headed pins from the Heathery Burn Cave in County Durham, usually dated to the end of the Bronze Age, somewhere around the 8th century B.C. A major task now will be to collect enough organic material for a C14 dating of the palisade. If this shows, as it might well do from analogy with other sites, that the timbers date from the 7th century B.C. or earlier, we may have here a really major enclosed site of the LBA/EIA transition, since it is difficult to see any point at which
Metal objects, drawn life size. Left: two disc- or nail-headed bronze pins with Hallstatt affinities. Right: iron brooch with slightly involuted bow, seen from above, from the side, and as reconstructed by restoring the missing foot. Corrosion makes it unclear whether the brooch is sprung, or hinged; found in association with 'Western 3rd B' iron age pottery.
the palisade could turn back across the ridge to cut off an area smaller than the later stone-walled fort.
At the other end of the time scale, any picture of a few late Roman squatters clustered around the entrance must certainly be abandoned. In 1969, over 300 yards from the entrance and on perhaps the most inhospitable end of the hill, there again turned up the same RomanoBritish pottery, much of it colourcoated red and imitating the flanged bowls of Samian form 38. Obviously the 4th century re-occupation was not a meagre affair. There is even the possibility that the defences themselves were still in use, since much of the pottery came from low in the stone fall and one piece from close against the foot of the rampart itself, under nearly three feet of subsequent collapse. Was the site redefended in this troubled period? Or was the abandoned Iron Age wall simply slow to decay at this point? Perhaps we shall never know, but behind the rampart, on a deliberately levelled area, there is at least a chance of uncovering a building associated with this re-occupation. Here, in 1969, a single post-hole for a post