Sir Wheeler’s excavations in the 1930s uncovered an extensive late Iron Age cemetery of more than 52 burials - some of the male skeletons from this cemetery displayed horrific injuries.
Wheeler believed this was a war cemetery, evidence for a Roman attack on the hillfort, following their invasion of Britain in AD 43. The 2nd Legion Augusta, under their leader Vespasian, is indeed known to have led a campaign through this part of southern England.
In the 70 years since Wheeler’s excavations, ideas about this cemetery have changed. Actually, only a handful of the individuals had died of violent injuries. The people had been carefully buried with grave goods; not only personal ornaments such as beads, brooches and rings, but also pottery and joints of meat.
Such funerary rituals do not suggest hastily dug graves after a single battle, but a cemetery that was used to bury soldiers and other people over a period of time. The battle-scarred warriors may have been injured defending Maiden Castle from the Romans, but it is equally likely that they had been involved in local skirmishes.
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