Iron Age Sites

Iron Age Sites from around the Globe: If you’re looking to explore Iron Age sites and want to find the best places to view Iron Age history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Built at a time when tools had graduated to being made of iron or steel, Iron Age sites range from small stone settlements to vast hill forts and even imposing castles. Here, we look at a range of Iron Age sites from around the world, the sites that characterised this final period of prehistory.

There’s an initial selection of Iron Age places and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your trips. Once you’ve explored the list of Iron Age historical sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Iron Age sites.

Our database of Iron Age historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Iron Age sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Iron Age: Site Index

Photo by Dominique Pipet (cc)

Ambrussum

Ambrussum contains the ruins of an Iron Age settlement, a Roman staging post and the remains of the nearby Roman bridge

DID YOU KNOW?

Northeast of the French village of Lunel, where the Via Domitia crossed the Vidourle River, lies the ruins of Roman Ambrussum.

This interesting archaeological sites holds three main attractions, the Iron Age defended settlement known as the Oppidum, a Roman era staging post complex and the remains of the nearby Roman bridge. The river was once spanned by this magnificent 11-arch stone bridge, the first century BC Pont Ambroix, of which only one arch now remains.

A new (2011) visitor's centre and museum exists for history buffs and one can walk the rutted old cobblestone roads to the Oppidum and see the reconstructed ramparts dating to before the Roman period.

Not an extensive or overly impressive site but certainly worth a look while in the area.

Carnfree

Carnfree is an extention of the Rathcroghan Archaeological Complex and the Inaugration place of the Kings of Connacht, in Ireland

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The Carnfree complex lies 6km south-south-east of Rathcroghan and comprises of sixteen monuments.

Access to the area is Limited as the sites are on private land and accessed by small country roads (very small), but visits to the area can be arranged by special appoint with staff at the Rathcroghan Centre @ Cruachan in Tulsk.

The site was used by the O’Conor kings as an inauguration site. The O ‘Conor’s were the high kings of Connaught and also gave Ireland two of its final high kings Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair (Turlough O’Conor) Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (Rory O’Conor).

The current O’Conor line lies with the descendants of Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair, Rory’s youngest brother and King of Connacht who lived in the Rathcroghan Area. The ‘Conchubhair Donn’, the senior member of the entire Muireadaigh dynasty, likewise descends from Cathal Crobhdearg.

Rory O’Conor was the last ‘High King of Ireland’ and the only ing of Ireland’ to hold this title which was created during his reign before the Norman invasion. It was Rory’s invasion of Leinster which resulted in the exile of its king, Dermot MacMurrough, who invited the Normans to Ireland.

Carnfree is located on high ridge over the village of Tulsk and is marked by a series of Burial Mounds and a standing stone, most likely used during inauguration ceremonies.

Photo by Cayambe (cc)

Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen

The Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen contains the remains of an ancient fortification in Germany, thought to have been constructed by the Treveri tribe.

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The Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen contains the remains of an ancient fortification in Germany, thought to have been constructed by the Treveri tribe.

The hillfort is positioned at the edge of the Hunsrück Nature Park, and their considerable height and location gives them a dominant view of the surrounding area - going some way to demonstrate their strategic location. The fortification was likely built in the 5th or 4th century BC and remained in use until some point around the 1st century BC, when the site was abandoned for reasons unknown.

Sometimes known as the Hunnenring, it is doubtful the site had anything to do with the more famous ancient tribe of similar name, the Huns.

During excavations at the site, the foundation walls of a small Roman temple dating from the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. were discovered, indicating a continued presence in the area throughout Roman times.

Today the site consists of the remaining circular earth ramparts, which are topped with stones. Visitors can explore the site - though running to more than 4km, the hillfort is not easy to explore in full. There are a number of signposted vantage points along the route which carry explanations and additional information. Positioned high among the forests, the site makes for a beautiful hike along the logging roads.

 

Photo by gnomonic (cc)

Chysauster Village

Chysauster Ancient Village contains the ruins of an Iron Age settlement in Cornwall, which is operated by English Heritage.

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Chysauster Ancient Village contains the ruins of a late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement in Cornwall, which is operated by English Heritage.

It is believed that Chysauster was inhabited from about 100 BC until the 3rd century AD and was primarily an agricultural settlement. This late Iron Age village is believed to have been in use up until and during the Roman occupation.

Today the site consists of the remains of around ten ancient houses, each around thirty metres in diameter. To the south of Chysauster Village is an underground passage known locally as fogou whose purpose is unknown.

Set on a tall hillside, Chysauster boasts stunning views across the countryside and out to the sea.

Photo by jlrsousa (cc)

Citania de Briteiros

A Portuguese site dating back to the second century BC, Citania de Briteiros was home to a people known as part of the Castro culture. Today, this Iron Age site includes the remains of a hillfort.

DID YOU KNOW?

Citania de Briteiros is a Portuguese archaeological site containing the ruins of an ancient settlement. In fact, dating back to the second century BC, Citania de Briteiros was home to a people known as part of the castro culture, named as such because the high areas on which they settled where known as "castros".

Today, visitors can see the remains of Citania de Briteiros Iron Age hillfort, circular homes and a cremation furnace. There’s also a small exhibition of excavated finds.

Photo by tpholland (cc)

Din Lligwy

One of many Iron Age sites in the UK, this relatively unknown site in Wales is believed to have been inhabited for an extensive period of time. Today, you can see the remains of several stone structures as well as its fortifications.

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Din Lligwy is a prehistoric site in Anglesey in Wales. Thought to have been in existence in the Iron Age and to have been inhabited for a long period of time, excavated pieces from Din Lligwy have been dated to the fourth century AD.

Din Lligwy is comprised of a small settlement of circular and rectangular stone structures enclosed by a stone defensive wall. Some of these would have been workshops and other dwellings. Within half a mile of Din Lligwy, visitors can also see a prehistoric burial chamber.

Photo by aikijuanma (cc)

Gamla Uppsala

Gamla Uppsala is an ancient Swedish burial site which includes at least 300 ancient graves, most notably the three large burials known as The Royal Mounds.

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Gamla Uppsala, also called Uppsala Högar, is a famous ancient burial site in Sweden which includes hundreds of ancient graves, most notably the three large burials known as The Royal Mounds.

With its roots stretching far back in time, much of the history of Gamla Uppsala is unclear and mingles into the semi-mythical legends of the earliest Kings of Sweden. What is known is that the area was of great religious and political importance during the Iron Age and Viking Age periods. The three Royal Mounds themselves likely date from the 6th century AD.

Today Gamla Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most important ancient sites and is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the area and visit the Royal Mounds as well as accessing a wealth of information in the Gamla Uppsala Museum, which also contains a range of artefacts from the area.

Also nearby is the Disagården Open Air Museum – which recreates life on a 19th-century farm.

Photo by Historvius

Hili Archaeological Park

The Hili Archaeological Park is a Bronze Age site which contains tombs and ruins dating back as far as the 3rd millennium BC. Today it is a popular public garden and historic site.

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The Hili Archaeological Park and Gardens is a Bronze Age site located just north of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.

It was in use in the 3rd millennium BC and ruins include settlements, tombs, and a later Iron Age falaj (irrigation channel) which made use of water from nearby springs well into the Iron Age.

Today the Hili Archaeological Park has been sculpted as both an historic site and public garden and is a popular place to relax and explore for both tourists and locals.

One outstanding monument is the Hili Grand tomb, some 12m in diameter with meticulously cut stone blocks and animal/human images at the entrances. These archaeological finds belong to the Umm Al-Nar culture.

Photo by MarilynJane (cc)

Hod Hill

This large hillfort - one of the biggest such Iron Age sites in Dorset - would have protected a village before it fell to the Romans in the first century AD.

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Hod Hill is an Iron Age hillfort and one of the largest of its kind in Dorset. With its imposing size and ramparts, Hod Hill would have defended a village.

In 44 AD, it is likely to have been captured by the Romans during their invasion of Britain. The Roman Second Legion, led by the future emperor Vespasian, was sent to subdue the region and captured a number of hill forts in the area.

Evidence of Roman occupation of Hod Hill can be seen at the site in the form of the remains of a Roman fort.

Photo by Historvius

Jabel Hafit Tombs

5000 year old beehive tombs

DID YOU KNOW?

The Jabel Hafit Tombs (also spelt Jebel Hafeet Tombs) are 5,000 year old domal-beehive tombs composed of stacked natural and edged stones. The site is located near the Omani border on the east side of Al Ain in the UAE.

Two oases the Al Ain and Buraimi provided water for agriculture in the past and made the area habitable for Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age settlements.

The Jabel Hafit Tombs belong to the "Hafeet Period" which was about 3200 to 2700BC. There are approximately 500 tombs in all at the foot of the mountain. There are rare skeletal remains in the tombs, but workers presume as many as ten individuals were originally buried in any particular tomb.

Bronze objects, soapstone vessels, and beads of a much later date were also found in some tombs suggesting their use through the Iron Age.

Photo by treehouse1977 (cc)

Maiden Castle

One of the best preserved Iron Age sites in the UK, Maiden Castle is a vast and imposing hillfort built in around 600 BC. At its zenith, this Iron Age site is said to have been the size of fifty football pitches. Invaded by the Romans in 43AD and later abandoned, today Maiden Castle’s ruins include a graveyard and a Roman temple.

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Maiden Castle is vast, well preserved Iron Age hill fort in Dorchester. Its name is believed to be derived from two Celtic words, ‘Mai’ and ‘Dun’, meaning “Great Hill”. Imposing and incredibly complex, Maiden Castle would certainly have posed a great challenge to anyone wishing to invade it.

Whilst the site was initially occupied during the Neolithic period, the structure of Maiden Castle was only built in the early Iron Age, circa 600 BC. It would have started as a small settlement, but as the society grew so did Maiden Castle. At its peak, the site would have been heavily populated, filled with houses and workshops and, at least according to the English Heritage audio guide, would have been the size of fifty football pitches. Its immense scale was both intimidating to any enemies and a symbol of the power of its inhabitants.

In 43 AD, the Romans invaded Britain and, within a few generations, the inhabitants of Maiden Hill moved to nearby Durnovaria (modern day Dorchester).

The Graveyard
Several fascinating finds have been made at Maiden Castle. For example, the archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler found an Iron Age cemetery. Wheeler originally thought that this was a war graveyard and that those interred there were casualties from when the Romans invaded the site. With little evidence that the Romans ever invaded Maiden Castle, it is now considered more likely that this was a normal cemetery.

The Roman Temple
Nevertheless, the Romans did make a mark on the site of Maiden Castle. In the fourth century AD, they built a temple there, the foundation stone of which are still in place. This was possibly to the cult of Minerva. Today, Maiden Castle is an English Heritage site and is open to the public. You can download a free audio guide from the English Heritage website.

Photo by Historvius

Oweynagat

Oweynagat is a natural cave site located within the Rathcroghan Complex which has been altered by man. It has been identified as the Cave of the Cats or the Sigh of Cruachan, a mythical passage was between this work and the Otherworld.

DID YOU KNOW?

Oweynagat (cave of the cats) is a pre-Christian spiritual site located within the Rathcroghan Royal Complex of North Co. Roscommon.

The site is mentioned in a number of ancient Irish texts as the entrance of the Otherworld or as the Aí of Cruachan. In mythology the cave is home to the Goddess Morrigan, (battle, strife, fertility) a triple goddess who appears in different tales from Irish pre-history.

The cave is a natural fissure or split in the earth, which formed over time. There are a number of these features in the area, however Oweynagat stands out. The modern entrance to the cave was constructed sometime after the 9th Century. This can be date from the souterrain (man-made underground passage) located at the entrance to the cave. This passage is quite short and located within an earthwork, which may be a barrow (burial site).

The souterrain utilises the natural cave walls as it descends into the cave proper, where a clear effort has been made to create a door by blocking up the natural cave entrance leaving a small gap. It is unknown when the site was first used, but the location of a Druid school nearby and evidence of Neolithic huts and burials in the area suggest that it was known from this time.

Today the site is accessed by a small local road (dead end). It is best to contact the Rathcroghan Visitors Centre for access as the cave is on private land. Access is through as small gate and the cave is located along the roadside under a small ditch. A small gap allows access to the passage where one can view the Ogham stone in the roof of the cave that reads Fraic son of Medb, which may relate to Queen Medb or a tribe dedicated to her. The passage turns to the left where you crawl for a short distance before reaching steps where one can enter the cave.

The cave is naturally dark and torches and old clothes are advisable when visiting. The inside of the can is 8m high with a narrowing to the rear.

Photo by Historvius

Rathcroghan

Identified as the traditional location of one of Ireland’s Celtic dynasties, Rathcroghan is an archaeological site in the West of Ireland.

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The Rathcroghan complex is a four square mile archaeological region located in Co. Roscommon, Ireland. It is noted for being one of the richest archaeological areas in Ireland with over 200 recorded monuments centring on the Celtic Royal Centre of Rathcroghan (Cruachan).

The area is located within a complex archaeological region with a history stretching back over 5000 years, with everything from burial monuments, pre-historic residential sites, royal places, temples and the entrance to the Otherworld (Oweynagat).

Today the region is mostly agricultural land. All that remains of this once great royal landscape is a series of field monuments and mounds which mark the location of the ancient sites.

The central Rathcroghan site is the only site in the complex freely open to the public (tours to other locations are arranged through the Rathcroghan Visitors Centre @ Cruachan Aí). This site is a broad flat-topped circular mound with a base of 90 meters and a height of 5.5 meters, sloping ramps on the east and west give access to the summit, on which there are traces of a small mound. Once thought to be a natural feature shaped by man to its present form, archaeological research has shown that it is in fact a man-made structure sitting on natural glacial ridge.

The mound was once the location of a large earth and stone structure which would have stood 15-20 feet high. The central stone monument was surrounded by a series of spiral henges and enclosed by a wooden palisade held in place by a revetment wall. A wooden passage extending to the east provided the only access to this monument which was the focal point of a spiritual and kingship tradition associated with both the Goddess Medb (sovereignty) and the Morrigan (Battle, Strife and Fertility).

While there has been no excavation of the mound, geophysical surveys have revealed there to be a second temple site beside the monument and a possible passage and chamber located beneath the site. It is unsure what this feature may represent at the present moment, but it been strongly suggest that the mound hides a passage tomb, similar to the Mound of the Hostage at Tara or Newgrange.

Photo by Charles D P Miller (cc)

Silchester Roman Town

Silchester Roman Town flourished from the mid-first century AD and was eventually abandoned.

DID YOU KNOW?

Silchester Roman Town is home to the remains of Calleva Atrebatum, a town which flourished under the Romans in the mid-first century AD. Built on the site of what had been an Iron Age trading hub, Calleva Atrebatum itself became a busy town crammed with shops, homes and several public amenities including a forum basilica, temples, public baths and an amphitheatre.

It is unclear as to when and why exactly Silchester Roman Town was abandoned. Estimates place its decline somewhere between 550 and 650 AD, much after the erection of the town walls in the third century and the end of Roman rule in the fifth century. Much has been made of the fact that no medieval settlement took its place.

Today, visitors to Silchester Roman Town can see its remaining ruins, those a mile and half walk of the walls and the amphitheatre. There is an audio guide to download from the English Heritage website. During six weeks of the summer, the main excavation site, run by Reading University, is also open.

The Eastern Mound

The Eastern Mound is an archaeological site in Bulgaria comprised of the beautifully preserved gravesite and chariot of an elite Thracian warrior.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Eastern Mound is an archaeological site in Bulgaria comprised of the beautifully preserved gravesite and chariot of an elite Thracian warrior.

The Thracians were tribes who existed at the same time as the better known Greeks and Roman civilisations and were often in conflict with these cultures.

Dating back to the first century AD, the Eastern Mound was only discovered in 2008. Now, visitors to this site can see the remains of this grave site in their original location, along with his horses and a dog.

The Thracian’s chariot is also on display, complete with an intact decoration. It is distinctive for having four intact wheels as well as for the larger than usual size of these wheels.

Van Castle

Van Castle was built in the Iron Age as part of the Urartu Kingdom and now stands as a stunning ruin in modern Turkey.

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Van Castle (Van Kalesi) was an Iron Age castle which now stands as a stunning ruin on the rocks to the west of the modern city of Van. It was constructed as part of the Urartu Kingdom in the ninth century BC. Upon the fall of this kingdom in the seventh century BC, Van Castle was taken by the Assyrians.

The site of Van Castle bears the marks of these two civillisations as well as others, such as the Ottoman Empire. In particular, it is home to the remains of a mosque built by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566).