Ancient Monuments

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Kelsborrow promontory fort on Castle Hill 300m south west of Castle Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Willington, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2027 / 53°12'9"N

Longitude: -2.7028 / 2°42'9"W

OS Eastings: 353153.464867

OS Northings: 367522.289982

OS Grid: SJ531675

Mapcode National: GBR 7K.29YV

Mapcode Global: WH88B.GR6L

Entry Name: Kelsborrow promontory fort on Castle Hill 300m south west of Castle Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 September 1973

Last Amended: 3 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013294

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25691

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Willington

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Delamere St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a univallate (single rampart) hill fort. It is situated
on a promontory of Castle Hill and faces south overlooking Willington and the
valley of the Dee. The hill is part of a ridge of red sandstone which
traverses Cheshire from the coastal plain to the Welsh border in the south
west corner of the county. This monument is one of a small number of hillforts
on promontories on this ridge.
The monument has a single bank with an external ditch cutting off the approach
to the defended settlement on the north side. The remaining two sides of the
triangular enclosure are very steep slopes down into two dry valleys which
converge in Boothsdale below the fort. The area enclosed by the defences is
2.94ha in extent.
The two fields which contain the monument have been regularly ploughed
both for crops and reseeding for pasture. This has resulted in degradation of
the defences so that the bank stands less than 0.4m high at any point along
its length. It has been spread so that it is 30m wide where it is discernible.
Despite this reduction and spreading the bank remains identifiable along its
whole original length except at the eastern end, although this gap may be the
entrance way. The bank is 400m long. Outside this is a largely infilled ditch
now 20m wide. The antiquarian Ormerod, writing in 1882, could discern a
couterscarp bank as well. However, neither aerial photographs nor present
fieldwork can confirm this. It may be noted, however, that the normal form of
the promontory fort in this area has two ramparts.
In 1810 a bronze palstave was found within the defences, also a fragment of an
iron sword in the same year.
An excavation in 1973 revealed that the rampart had been revetted with timber,
and postholes suggest reinforcement of the earthen bank with timber also. The
original width of the rampart was 4m. The ditch had been dug 8.5m in front of
the rampart with a sloping intervening berm.
The modern field boundaries, and dry stone 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 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

The univallate promontory fort called Kelsborrow survives reasonably well in
spite of the effects of ploughing over the last centuries. The interior will
contain much archaeological material which can throw light on the settlement
economy and status of the Iron Age peoples who built and inhabited it. The
monument is one of small group of promontory forts in Cheshire.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ormerod, , History of Cheshire, (1882), 2
Ormerod, , History of Cheshire, (1882), 3
Coombs, D G, 'Manchester Archaeological Bulletin' in Manchester Archaeological Bulletin, (1988), 64-67

Source: Historic England

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