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The Dark Fort

The perils of reconstruction

It is fitting that a fake Neolithic monument is the key to the precarious state of Judley Hall. As Founder and President of the Angarth Archaeological Association, Sir Eustace Judley spent a huge amount of money on the construction of what he called the Dark Fort in his estate. Inspired by the history of the landscape of the Borderlands, he visited over forty hillforts in the area, making extensive notes on the condition and history of each.

Particularly important was the hill fort near Penrith, King Arthurs Table, which in fact has no connection with King Arthur, and dates from the 3rd century BC. The project took three years to complete and required 6,500 tonnes of earth, as well as several hundred limestone boulders sourced in Roxburghshire. Sir Eustace had hope to incorporate the monument, which spanned 200 feet by 80 feet, into the annual Aeppeltun Isle celebrations but was still working on the exact nature of the new ceremony at the time of his death.

Despite minor damage in 2002 during the XY Festival, where part of one of the western ramparts collapsed, the Dark Fort can still be visited today, and is a favourite resting spot for the Judley Hall duck population.