I have been wanting to visit Warham camp for several years, but there always seems to be some reason not to make the effort to visit. So yesterday I decided that I would finally go and see if I could find any Chalk Hill Blue butterflies. Located between Stiffkey and Wells there is a hidden treasure. For anyone who hasn’t visited this is an amazing site. It’s one of four Iron Age settlements located in North Norfolk. Its original use is open to interpretation and discussion, it could have been a fortress , a residence of the social elite or a centre for local trade serving as a meeting place or refuge in time of conflict. There is even possibilities of ceremonial or religious use.
The large curving banks and ditches as you walk onto the site form the ancient earthworks know today as Warham Camp. It is the best preserved Iron Age fort in East Anglia.The circular fort was built against a bend in the River Stiffkey over 2000 years ago by the Iceni tribe. Archaeological digs here have revealed Iron Age pottery dating from 200 BC to the 1st century AD.
Two massive earth banks and ditches were built from the hard chalk to make an enclosure of 1.5 Hectares. Originally the earthworks formed a complete circle with possibly one entrance near the river. In the 1700’s the area was levelled when the course of the river was straightened. the entrances that are visible today were made in the 1890’s. Excavations made during 1914 and 1959 revealed that the ditches were originally 2 metres deeper than they are today. On top of the inner bank a wooden palisade and walkway were discovered. These would have provided a protected path around the camp with good views over the countryside. The site was used by the Romans during their occupation and large amounts of Roman pottery were found during the excavations along with roof and flue tiles. which suggest that a building of importance once stood inside the enclosure.
Today the chalk is still visible at parts along the ditch, but the area is mainly covered with a carpet of stunted wild flowers, there are Scabious, Lady’s Bedstraw, Campions, Self Heal, Harebells, Wild Thyme, Daisies, Fairy Flax and much, much more, depending on the time of year. These provide a marvellous carpet of colour and the habitat for the Chalk Hill Blue Butterfly. I think my visit was too late in the season and on the day I visited and definitely far too windy but I was fortunate to get to see both the blue coloured male and the brown female chalk Hill Blue Butterflies. Next year I will put a date in my diary to visit towards the end of July! If only to see the wild flowers in bloom. Nick