Knook Castle

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

Early in January when I was checking the Ordnance Survey maps for sites to visit in Wiltshire, I stumbled across an earthwork called Knook Castle. It has a distinctive shape, and looked to be a complete Iron Age enclosure. In actual fact, it is a univillate Hill fort.

Knook Castle

I already knew the area around Knook Camp, as I regularly visit Dunscombe Bottom to do livestock checks for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (last summer it was cattle, at the moment it is a flock of sheep). But looking at the map, if I continued walking up the hill I would eventually hit a tank track that would take me right up to the Imber Range perimeter path, and Knook Castle would be accessible from there.

The walk was a bit longer than expected, but once there, the shape of the earthwork could clearly be seen. To the North and to the West of Knook Castle, the map also showed that there are further earthworks and evidence of settlements. These are the Romano-British sites of Knook Down East and Knook Down West. In fact the landscape was literally full of ancient earthworks including many tumuli and Knook Long Barrow, although many of these were off limits as they sit in the danger area of Salisbury Plain.

Looking across to Knook Down West

Knook Long Barrow in the military danger area

As the light was fading I had to cut my trip short and return to my car, but this is a place I will return to in the summer to spend many hours exploring. What was especially fascinating is how remote this place feels today. On the edge of the military danger area, it is undeveloped and apart from a few farm buildings it is open land. But in the past, this area would have been full of people from the nearby settlements and as you look across the landscape you can see the hill forts on the top of Scratchbury and Battlesbury Hills. How different this place would have been in the Iron Age.

The Imber Range perimiter path, looking across to Cley Hill

Access Information

It is possible to walk to Knook Castle from Knook itself, although it is possible to drive right up to it, as there is a single track lane that runs from the B390 up past Quebec Farm stopping just at the south edge of the earthwork where there is parking.

The OS Maps grid reference is ST960439.

For a description of a circular walk in the area starting at Heytesbury taking in Knook Castle and Upton Lovell, go to this link here: Heytesbury, Knook Castle and Upton Lovell Walk

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