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Portfield hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Whalley, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.8153 / 53°48'55"N

Longitude: -2.3874 / 2°23'14"W

OS Eastings: 374586.812824

OS Northings: 435519.812794

OS Grid: SD745355

Mapcode National: GBR CSRB.X1

Mapcode Global: WH96Q.9CCF

Entry Name: Portfield hillfort

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 22 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013608

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27676

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Whalley

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Whalley St Mary and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument includes Portfield hillfort, also known as Planes Wood Camp. It
is situated on a south facing promontory on the eastern side of the valley of
the River Calder and includes a flat enclosure which was defended by banks and
ditches on all sides except the west where the steeply sloping valley side
afforded sufficient protection. The enclosure measures a maximum of
approximately 165m north west - south east by 110m north east - south west and
appears so flat as to suggest it has been artifically levelled. The defences
have been considerably mutilated in modern times but survive best at the
monument's north west corner adjacent to the steep declivity to the west; they
consist of an inner bank or rampart up to 1.5m high outside which is a berm
or levelled area 6m wide. Beyond this berm is a ditch up to 6m wide, then a
second earthen bank 4m wide, then another ditch with a third earthen bank
beyond. Elsewhere this defensive system may not have been as comprehensive and
a single scarp, part natural and part artifical, may have sufficed, indeed an
early 20th century survey of the monument depicts an earthwork a short
distance down the hillslope on the monument's southern side.
Limited excavation undertaken in 1957, at the time a trench for a water
pipeline was dug across the monument, found evidence for an earlier defensive
rampart on the northern side of the monument and indicated that the hillfort
was originally defended by a single rampart then subsequently extended
slightly and provided with more complex defences. As such it was originally
constructed as a slight univallate hillfort then later modified into a small
multivallate hillfort. A cobbled pavement which comprised the entrance through
the northern defences was located during this excavation and, in a layer of
stones over this pavement, pottery dated to the second century AD was found.
In 1966, during the laying of a third pipeline across the site, workmen
discovered a hoard of nine Bronze Age artefacts consisting of a gold bracelet,
a gold `tress or lock' ring, and a number of bronze objects including socketed
axe heads. Further limited excavations in the 1960s and 1970s found pottery
dating to the medieval and Roman periods, and flint and chert objects dated to
the Bronze Age and Neolithic period (c.1800-700 BC and 3400-1800 BC
respectively). Thus the site shows evidence of human activity and occupation
from Neolithic times through to the present day.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These comprise all
modern field boundaries and gateposts, the western extension to the property
known as Llamedos, all outbuildings and stables, all garden walls and fences,
and the surface of a farmyard, although the ground beneath all these features
is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. 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. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Small multivallate hillforts are defined by boundaries consisting of two or
more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These
entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where
cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age
period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC
and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally
regarded as settlements of high status occupied on a permanent basis.
Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or a rampart and ditch with
counterscarp banks. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two
entrances and the interior generally consists of settlement evidence similar
to that found in slight univallate hillforts. Small multivallate hillforts are
rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. In view of their rarity and
their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social
organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.
Portfield hillfort is a rare example in north west England of a slight
univallate hillfort which was subsequently modified at a later date into a
small multivallate hillfort. Limited excavations undertaken between the 1950s
and 1970s found artefactual evidence which demonstrates that the area
occupied by the monument was used from Neolithic times to medieval times, and
further evidence of the nature of the settlement at the hillfort will exist.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire: Volume IV, (1911), 34
Farrer, W, Brownbill, J (eds), The Victoria History of the County, (1911), 34
Coombes, G, 'British Archaeological Reports' in British Archaeological Reports, (1972), 34
Coombes, G, 'British Archaeological Reports' in British Archaeological Reports, (1972), 34
Forde-Johnson, J, 'Trans Lancs & Chesh Antiq Soc.' in Iron Age Hillforts in Lancashire & Cheshire, , Vol. 72, (1962), 26-7
Green, J M, 'Whalley and District Historical and Archaeological Society' in Where Rivers Meet, , Vol. 2 No.1, (1989), 13-21
Raymond,F., MPP Single Mon Class Description - Slight Univallate Hillforts, (1988)
Raymond,F., MPP Single Mon Class Descriptions - Small Multivallate Hillforts, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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