Iron Age houses and settlements

Although there may have been some use of Iron Age hillforts as settlements, archaeologists think that most people lived in separate hamlets or farmsteads.

Where would you live?

Using the map of Bucks with the hillforts on it attached to this page, try to decide where you would like to live if you were alive in the Iron Age. Think about what a settlement needs. What kind of work would the people in the settlement be doing? It might be helpful to write a list on a piece of paper of things that your village or town has that settlements in the Iron Age wouldn’t have had.


Once you have made a list of everything an Iron Age settlement would need you can decide where to build your settlement. Look at the blank map of Buckinghamshire your teacher gives you and decide which location would be best for an Iron Age settlement. Search the Unlocking Buckinghamshire's Past website to see where all Iron Age settlements are in Buckinghamshire.


Iron Age houses would also look very different from your houses. Archaeologists work out how houses looked when they do an excavation or when they see a crop-mark from the air.

Houses from the air

Look at the aerial photograph of a field just east of Boveney village, Dorney your teacher gives you. Can you see anything that might look like a house? Are there any other crop-marks associated with the houses? What could they be?


Archaeologists think that some of these circles seen from the air, which they call ring-ditches, are the remains of Iron Age houses. To try and work out a bit more about what houses looked like, archaeologists also need to look at excavations.

Iron Age house reconstruction at the Chiltern Open Air MuseumHouses on the ground

Look at the plan of excavations done at Coldharbour Farm, Aylesbury that your teacher gives you. Can you see more ring-ditches, like the ones you saw on the aerial photographs? What else is associated with them? Can you see the little pits all the way around the inside of the ring-ditches? These would be to hold wooden posts, and archaeologists call them post-holes. Is there also a wooden post in the centre? 


Once you have a picture of what Iron Age houses looked like, look at pictures of some reconstructed ones such as at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

Reconstruction of Iron Age buildings at DorneyIron age house reconstructions

From these reconstructed Iron Age houses, try and find the answers to the following questions and write them here:

  1. What are the houses made of?
  2. What shape are they?
  3. How are they heated?
  4. How do you think would they have been used? 

Go back to find more Changes in the landscape.