Ancient Monuments

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Promontory fort called Castlesteads on the east bank of the Irwell 550m SSE of Banks Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Elton, Bury

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Latitude: 53.613 / 53°36'46"N

Longitude: -2.3084 / 2°18'30"W

OS Eastings: 379692.89532

OS Northings: 412987.103239

OS Grid: SD796129

Mapcode National: GBR DVBN.1K

Mapcode Global: WH97Q.HGZ0

Entry Name: Promontory fort called Castlesteads on the east bank of the Irwell 550m SSE of Banks Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014720

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27584

County: Bury

Electoral Ward/Division: Elton

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Walmersley Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Manchester


The monument includes a defended settlement on a natural promontory
overlooking the floodplain of the River Irwell, 550m SSE of Banks Farm.
The nose of the promontory is cut off by a ditch 6m wide running from north to
south for 120m and meeting the edge of the steep scarp at both ends. The
interior of the fort is a triangular plateau with its northern side 100m long
and the southern side 140m long. The defences of these two sides are formed by
the steep slope of the natural scarp falling away to the river bank on the
north side. On the south side there is the silted former channel of the Irwell
which would have further defended the site in the past. At the north east
corner a rampart has been constructed to continue the defence of the top of
the steep scarp on the northern side. This continues past the ditch, which
interrupts it, and into the field to the east of the monument for 20m.
An evaluation of the site in 1982 confirmed that the ditch is 0.5m deep
and that the interior contains extensive remains of pits and the post holes of
former buildings in the central area. No more than 2% of the site was
excavated. Pottery and dated radio-carbon samples from the site show that it
was occupied for a period from c.200 BC to AD 250.
The post and wire fencing at the edges of the site are not included in the
scheduling, although the ground beneath 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 promontory fort at Castlesteads is well preserved in spite of the
truncation of the central features by ploughing. The ditch and additional
rampart on the north eastern corner are clearly visible. The interior of the
settlement has been evaluated and this has shown that extensive remains of the
dwellings and pits for storage and waste disposal remain in the central area.
The fill of the ditch will contain important evidence of the construction and
later settlement of the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Farrer, J, Brownbill, W (eds), The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire: Volume II, (1908), 553-4
North West Archaeological Surveys, , Castlesteads Bury Evaluation Report, (1992)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition
Source Date: 1844

Source: Historic England

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