Ancient Monuments

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Castle How hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Wythop, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6662 / 54°39'58"N

Longitude: -3.2392 / 3°14'20"W

OS Eastings: 320173.135695

OS Northings: 530828.522299

OS Grid: NY201308

Mapcode National: GBR 5GTH.J2

Mapcode Global: WH6ZS.6ZS6

Entry Name: Castle How hillfort

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 19 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013384

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23792

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Wythop

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Binsey Team

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Castle How hillfort. It is located on the summit of
Castle How, a rocky hillock rising steeply above the western shore of
Bassenthwaite Lake. The ground falls steeply on the monument's north and south
sides. To the east and west there are earthworks which defend the fort along
its easiest line of approach. These defences include a series of four rock cut
ditches with banks and counterscarps on the western side, and two rock cut
ditches with banks and counterscarps on the eastern side. Access into the
hillfort's interior is on the eastern side via a path which passes through a
gap in the outer bank and across a causeway over the inner ditch. This
entrance is defended by a rocky hummock c.2m high located between the inner
and outer ditches, and which is dished out artificially so as to provide a
rock breastwork. The summit of the hillfort is an artificially levelled
plateau measuring c.38.5m east-west by 18m north-south. The north side of the
summit is raised up to 0.7m high suggesting it formed the footings of an earth
or stone rampart of which no other trace now exists. On the south east side of
the summit, overlooking the inner ditch, there is a small ledge measuring
c.6.5m by 2.7m which is interpreted as a hut platform. On this ledge R G
Collingwood found fragments of pot boilers (cobbles which would be heated then
dropped into pots of water) during an inspection of the site in the early
1920's. Also visible during Collingwood's inspection was a cobble stone
revetment in the innermost western and outermost eastern ditches and along the
northern edge of the hillfort just below the summit. Amongst the stones used
for this revetment Collingwood found more pot boilers and pieces of red
sandstone, one of which had parallel chisel tooling which he interpreted as
being of Roman origin and which was given to Keswick Museum, and another which
he considered to be part of a Roman roofing tile.

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. These are all located on hilltops or
distinctive craggy knolls, generally have an internal area of less than 1ha,
and are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more closely set
earthworks, usually ditches with or without adjacent banks or ramparts.
Ditches are often rock cut and the associated ramparts, where they exist, are
usually largely of stone construction. These defences 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, normally 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 which enhance lower natural terraces
on the hill. They are mostly 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 times. Hillforts of this type are rare, with
fewer than 100 identified examples in England. In view of this rarity, their
importance for hillfort studies, and their importance for understanding the
nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with
surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.
Castle How hillfort is a good example of this class of monument. It survives
well and its defensive earthworks in particular remain well preserved. It will
retain evidence of the activities undertaken within the site and the methods
utilised in its defence.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Collingwood, R G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Castle How, Peel Wyke, , Vol. XXIV, (1924), 78-87

Source: Historic England

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