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Maiden Castle promontory fort on Bickerton Hill 700m west of Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Broxton, Cheshire West and Chester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0708 / 53°4'14"N

Longitude: -2.7511 / 2°45'3"W

OS Eastings: 349773.176897

OS Northings: 352878.980493

OS Grid: SJ497528

Mapcode National: GBR 7H.BJ8P

Mapcode Global: WH892.Q25P

Entry Name: Maiden Castle promontory fort on Bickerton Hill 700m west of Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 October 1936

Last Amended: 7 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013293

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25690

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Broxton

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Bickerton Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes a bivallate (double rampart) promontory hillfort on
Bickerton Hill. It is situated on one of the highest points of the sandstone
ridge which bisects the county from the estuary of the Mersey to the Welsh
border near Wrexham. Bickerton Hill is at the southern end of this ridge and
overlooks the broad valley of the River Dee.

The fort occupies a point on the edge of a cliff on the south western side of
the hill. It is not on a promontory but is cut off from the surrounding land
by two semicircular ramparts which do not appear to have an intervening
ditch. The form of the fort is therefore similar to other bivallate promontory
forts in this region.

The west side of the fort is defended by the cliff edge. On the south and east
sides are two concentric curving ramparts from cliff edge to cliff edge. The
inner rampart stands 2m high and was revetted with dry stone walling. The
earthen bank was also reinforced with timber strapping in bands set into the
inner face of the revetting. The outer rampart was a timber palisade later
replaced by a dump rampart which was revetted with dry stone walling on its
outer face. On the eastern side and 40m from the northern cliff edge there is
an inturned gap of 10m forming an entrance in the inside rampart. The
corresponding gap in the outer rampart is 20m wide and may have vestigial
hornworks curving back from the entrance for 30m on either side.

The interior has many small pits and mounds representing quarrying activity
over a long period. There is a double bank running north-south on the western
edge of the interior to the middle of the fort. This has been adopted as the
parish boundary, and is met by a field boundary from the east which cuts
the defences in the centre and turns westwards to meet the parish boundary in
the centre of the west side. There is also evidence of the spoil heaps of
previous excavations and numerous two-man slit trenches which indicate
military use of the site in the 20th century.

The wooden steps and kerbs to the footpath as well as the infill material for
the conservation of the footpaths are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally
defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more
earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it
from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by
steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings
defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches
formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected
along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an
entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively
for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone-
walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings
used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally
Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth
century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with
other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status,
probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest
that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display
as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded
examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of
the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all
examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally
important.

The promontory fort on Bickerton Hill survives well in spite of the quarries
in the interior. It has well preserved ramparts which will preserve and retain
significant information on the timber lacing used in their construction.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, Hillforts of Britain, (1975), 244-5
Varley, W J, 'Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology' in Maiden Castle Bickerton, , Vol. 23, (1936), 101-12
Other
Cheshire SMR, (1994)
Milln, J, (1994)
Pearson G, Letter to Taylor J, (1980)

Source: Historic England

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