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Castercliff small multivallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Nelson, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.8417 / 53°50'29"N

Longitude: -2.1765 / 2°10'35"W

OS Eastings: 388485.157123

OS Northings: 438392.976609

OS Grid: SD884383

Mapcode National: GBR FS70.LM

Mapcode Global: WHB7R.JPTS

Entry Name: Castercliff small multivallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 21 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007404

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22507

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Nelson

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Great Marsden St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument is Castercliff Iron Age small multivallate hillfort. It is
located on an eminence overlooking the Calder Valley and includes an
oval-shaped internal plateau measuring approximately 115m by 76m that is
enclosed on all sides except the north by three rubble ramparts, each up to
1.5m high and situated on the slope of the hill, with an external ditch up to
1.5m deep in front of each. The maximum width of the whole rampart and ditch
system is approximately 46m. On the north side the defences are incomplete and
consist in the main of a single rampart and ditch. However some short lengths
of triple rampart and ditch separated by areas of undisturbed ground are also
visible here. Limited excavation of the defences indicated that the inner
rampart was revetted with stone and also timber-laced.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
national importance.

Despite some damage to the ramparts and hillfort interior by open-cast mineral
extraction and bell-pits, the monument survives reasonably well. It remains
unencumbered by modern development and will retain evidence for the settlement
within the hillfort's interior and for the construction methods and phasing of
the ramparts. It is a rare example of a small multivallate hillfort in north-
west England and one of only three examples of this type of monument in

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Forde-Johnson, J, Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales, (1976), 101,106
Harrison, W, Archaeological Survey of Lancashire, (1896), 8
Watkins, W T, Roman Lancashire, (1883), 199
Whittaker, TD, History of Whalley, (1801), 26-7
Wilkinson, T T, 'Trans Lancs & Chesh Antiq Soc' in , , Vol. 9, (1856), 9
N595-613, N1063, N1466-8, SF1344:1-7, Lancs Univ Arch Unit,
Raymond,F., MPP Single Mon Class Descriptions - Small Multivallate Hillforts, (1989)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPFW, Iles,P. (Lancs SMR Officer), (1992)

Source: Historic England

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