Ancient Monuments

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Maiden Castle univallate prehistoric defended enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in Matterdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6113 / 54°36'40"N

Longitude: -2.8512 / 2°51'4"W

OS Eastings: 345123.714668

OS Northings: 524353.455483

OS Grid: NY451243

Mapcode National: GBR 8HJ3.JR

Mapcode Global: WH81H.5CK6

Entry Name: Maiden Castle univallate prehistoric defended enclosure

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 1 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008633

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23687

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Matterdale

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Watermillock

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Maiden Castle univallate defended enclosure. It is
located on a plateau on the south east facing slopes of Soulby Fell and
includes a roughly circular enclosure defended by a rampart, ditch and
counterscarp bank.
The enclosure measures approximately 65m in diameter and contains internal
earthworks which include two sub-circular low platforms c.8m in diameter which
are interpreted as house platforms. Defending the enclosure is an earth and
stone rampart, a ditch and a counterscarp bank. The rampart measures c.5m wide
by 1m high, the ditch measures c.5m wide by 0.5m deep, and the counterscarp
bank measures c.5m wide by 0.2m high.
All modern field boundaries and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

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

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of
different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied
in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts
built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites,
sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended
settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops,
others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of
earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate),
others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen
ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber
fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built
round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept
in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed
yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single
family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction
and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through
to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD).
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are
important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during
this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national

Despite plough damage to the defences on the north and west sides of the
monument, Maiden Castle univallate prehistoric defended enclosure survives
reasonably well. It lies towards the edge of an area where the rich
agricultural soils of the Eden valley and its tributary valleys supported a
considerable prehistoric and Romano-British population from Neolithic times
onwards. The monument will contribute to any further study of early settlement
patterns in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ferguson, C, Archaeological Survey of Cumberland & Westmorland
Challis, , Harding, , 'British Archaeological Reports' in Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne, , Vol. 20 pt ii, (1975), 51
Maclean, H, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Caerthannoc or Maidencastle, Soulby Fell, , Vol. XII, (1912), 143-6
Letter to Maclean,Rev.H. in CW12 p144, Forster, R H, (1912)

Source: Historic England

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