Ancient Monuments

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Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort, Thirlmere

A Scheduled Monument in St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.56 / 54°33'35"N

Longitude: -3.0842 / 3°5'2"W

OS Eastings: 329987.239153

OS Northings: 518845.723591

OS Grid: NY299188

Mapcode National: GBR 6HXQ.24

Mapcode Global: WH70F.LNK3

Entry Name: Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort, Thirlmere

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1924

Last Amended: 30 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012942

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23682

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: St John's in the Vale and Wythburn

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort. It is located at the
northern end of a plateau with a rocky knoll known as Castle Crag forming the
highest point. The ground falls steeply on the monument's north and west
sides. To the south and east are earthworks which defend the hillfort from the
easiest line of approach.
On the summit of the knoll are three rock-cut levelled areas measuring between
6m square and 3m square which are interpreted as hut platforms. The knoll is
defended on its south west and east sides by a rock-cut ditch measuring c.7m
wide by 1m deep. To the south of the knoll is a relatively flat sub-oval area
containing two rectangular rock-cut levelled areas; the larger measures
approximately 21m by 9m, the smaller measures 8m by 7m. Also located within
this sub-oval area is a rectangular shallow rock-cut depression measuring 25m
by 7m. To the south and east the monument is defended by a massive earth and
stone bank up to 6.5m high externally with an internal ditch. Beyond this bank
further defensive earthworks include two closely-spaced banks and ditches on
the monument's south east side; the banks measure up to 3m high, the ditches
up to 8m wide. At the northern end of these two banks and ditches, adjacent to
the eastern side of the earth and stone bank, is a level area measuring 28m by
16m. An entrance to the hillfort's interior is located on the eastern side and
is represented by a narrow passageway cut through the earth and stone bank at
its northern end close to the foot of the rocky knoll.

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

In the northern uplands a number of small hillforts or fortified enclosures of
varying shape have been identified. They are located on hilltops or
distinctive craggy knolls and generally have an internal area of less than
1ha. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely
set earthworks, usually ditches with or without adjacent banks or ramparts.
These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories
or rocky knolls, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. The
layout of the site is heavily dependent upon the topography of the location.
The core area of the site, where the main living accommodation was provided,
occupies the highest position on the hill or crag. Additional living or
working areas are also frequently located between or within the surrounding
earthworks and may take the form of rock-cut levelled areas. They are of Iron
Age date and are contemporary with other more common hillfort types. Some,
however, may have been reused or have been new constructions in post-Roman
Hillforts of this type are rare, with fewer than 100 identified examples. In
view of this rarity and their importance for hillfort studies and the
understanding of the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of
national importance.
Shoulthwaite Gill hillfort is a good example of this class of monument. It
survives well and remains unencumbered by modern development. The monument's
defensive earthworks in particular remain well preserved and the site will
retain evidence of the activities undertaken within the site and the methods
utilised in its defence.

Source: Historic England


SMR No. 5497, Cumbria SMR, Shoulthwaite Gill Hillfort, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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