is what the locals called the iron age earthworks at Warham, nowadays it mostly goes under Warham Camp

you walk up the back lane to Wighton – we cut the corner off and went through the churchyard – one of the two in Warham, All Saints. the church is closed for renovation at the moment, an interesting mishmash of building styles and re-builds, and its tower collapsed a very long time ago by the look of it

we crossed the river Stiffkey, one of our treasured north Norfolk chalk streams

water clear as a bell

by a pretty little bridge with curved walls

and up the top of the road to the track.

the earthworks or fort – though the actual purpose of the site is not really understood – are huge, double ramparts with ditches, dug in the chalk, so the whole thing would have glittered white in the sun when it was new. the information board says it was built around 200BC and used until 100 AD with the remains of Roman building – tiles and so on, in the enclosure.

the river once curved around, cradling the circle of the fort, providing an extra barrier, but probably also providing summer pasture for cattle and horses. the enclosure-mad landowners of the eighteenth century straightened the Stiffkey, cutting off a slice of the ramparts in the process, while draining the wetland around it for agricultural use.

for us, apart from the glamour and resonance of the history of the place – wild celtic tribes, warrior queens, heroic charioteers, golden torc hoards and all the rest – the plants and insects here are quite special.

the chalk ramparts are a wonderful habitat for various orchids and butterflies

there are chalk hill blues, and common blues flitting about

autumn gentian is very common here – a plant I’d never seen before – amongst birds eye trefoil and ladies bedstraw –

the orchids are over in late summer, but I found seedheads of common spotted.

colonies of stemless thistle like the south facing slopes

clumps of mignonette

harebells all over the mounds, scabious and devil’s bit scabious,

meadow flowers in the thin grasses looking like medieval tapestry

self-heal

wild angelica

the area inside the rings of banks and ditches is covered in thistles and nettles – thistledown blowing across and catching on everything

and the surrounding hedges full of hips and haws

a holme oak, very old, stands inside the enclosure

probably seeded by a bird carrying an acorn from the trees in Warham’s churchyards. from the camp you can see two church towers, St Mary’s Warham and All Saints Wighton

next year I will be visiting in early summer, to catch those orchids in flower.