Ancient Monuments

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How Hill large univallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Downholme, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3772 / 54°22'37"N

Longitude: -1.8347 / 1°50'5"W

OS Eastings: 410831.209752

OS Northings: 497977.508947

OS Grid: SE108979

Mapcode National: GBR HKMT.LN

Mapcode Global: WHC6J.S7HQ

Entry Name: How Hill large univallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 4 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012604

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24500

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Downholme

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Downholme and Marske St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


This large univallate hillfort is situated in a prominent position, on an
isolated hill, controlling access to upper Swaledale and also overlooking the
break in the hills through which leads the route south to the Vale of York.
The rampart and ditch of the fort can be seen on the western and northern
sides of the hill. The rampart is 2.5m wide and stands 0.3m above the ground
surface. A shallow ditch formed largely by the natural slope is 5.8m wide.
Beyond this is a counterscarp bank, 1.9m across and 0.5m above the ditch. Much
of the eastern and southern part of the rampart was demolished in the Middle
Ages when the whole of the broad summit of the hill together with the southern
and eastern slopes were ploughed. Air photography, however, reveals that the
summit was once fully enclosed, the now infilled ditch being visible and the
rig and furrow following the former extent of the rampart circuit. On the
western and northern perimeters of the hill the steepness of the slope has
deterred later cultivation and therefore a substantial length of rampart and
ditch have survived as upstanding earthworks.
Modern field walls 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

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

Although sections of the monument have been overlaid and demolished during
the medieval period, large stretches of rampart and ditch survive as
upstanding monuments. Aerial photographs have identified the full extent of
the site and confirm that other remains of the fort survive beneath the
present ground surface.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fleming, A M, 'Western Yorkshire' in How Hill, Downholme, (1993), 21
Fleming, A M, 'Western Yorkshire' in How Hill, Downholme, (1993), 21
Cambridge University, How Hill, Downholme,

Source: Historic England

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