Ancient Monuments

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Castlesteads small multivallate hillfort on The Helm

A Scheduled Monument in Stainton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.2922 / 54°17'31"N

Longitude: -2.7224 / 2°43'20"W

OS Eastings: 353076.224624

OS Northings: 488748.662175

OS Grid: SD530887

Mapcode National: GBR 9LFT.D4

Mapcode Global: WH833.4CWW

Entry Name: Castlesteads small multivallate hillfort on The Helm

Scheduled Date: 30 March 1925

Last Amended: 6 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008263

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23684

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Stainton

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Crosscrake St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Castlesteads small multivallate hillfort, located on the
summit of The Helm. The ground falls steeply to the east and west of the
monument and gradually to the north and south. It includes an enclosure
measuring approximately 39m long by 17m wide at the southern end, widening to
25m wide at the northern end. Within the enclosure are three artificially
levelled areas interpreted as being hut platforms. The smallest lies towards
the southern end and measures c.3m square, the largest lies at the centre and
measures c.15m by 3m, and the third lies close to the north western corner and
measures c.11.5m by 3.5m. To the north the enclosure is defended by two earth
and stone banks both measuring up to 2m high from the outside and separated by
a ditch 8.5m wide. Abutting the north western part of the outside of the outer
bank is a semicircular levelled area 17m in diameter. To the east of this,
just beyond the outer bank, there are faint traces of a shallow ditch c.3m
wide. To the south the enclosure is defended by a single earth and stone bank
6.5m wide by 1m high. A short distance to the north and south of the defensive
earthworks there are two rock-cut basins interpreted as wells or dew-ponds to
provide the monument's inhabitants with water. A survey of the monument
undertaken in the early years of the 20th century noted faint traces of
the defensive earthwork running along the east and west sides of the site,
indicating that it had originally been completely enclosed. This earthwork has
since eroded down the steep hillslope.
A tumbled drystone wall and a post and wire fence crossing the monument are
excluded from the scheduling, the ground beneath these features, however, is
included. Also included within the scheduling is an Ordnance Survey
triangulation station located within the hillfort's enclosure.

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 remains are believed to be of
national importance.

Castlesteads small multivallate hillfort is exceptionally small and
demonstrates the variety in form of this class of monument. It survives
well, remains largely unencumbered by modern development, and will retain
evidence of the activities undertaken within the site and the methods utilised
in its defence.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Three More Ancient Castles of Kendal, , Vol. VIII, (1908), 108-12

Source: Historic England

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