Ancient Monuments

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Promontory fort 300m west of Great Woolden Hall Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Rixton-with-Glazebrook, Warrington

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Latitude: 53.4379 / 53°26'16"N

Longitude: -2.4664 / 2°27'59"W

OS Eastings: 369111.299079

OS Northings: 393563.023363

OS Grid: SJ691935

Mapcode National: GBR CX6P.T9

Mapcode Global: WH98F.2VS8

Entry Name: Promontory fort 300m west of Great Woolden Hall Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015127

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27594

County: Warrington

Civil Parish: Rixton-with-Glazebrook

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Cadishead St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Manchester


The monument includes a defended promontory fort overlooking the Glazebrook on
the north side of the river. The site is on a narrow ridge of sandy alluvium
which is surrounded by peat mossland. To the south is Glazebrook Moss and to
the north is the Chat Moss. The fort is thus protected by wetlands and appears
to have been built to guard a corridor through the mosslands which would have
connected the higher ground near Altrincham with the ridge which runs east to
west from Worsley to Leigh and out into the south Lancashire plain.
The promontory stands only 10m above the river but has steep slopes on the
east, south and west sides. On the north side the site has been defined by a
defensive double ditch curving around the northern side to cut off access to
the interior. The interior is almost rectangular and measures 120m by 100m and
is therefore 1.2ha in extent. The two ditches are 4m wide on average and 10m
apart. They are traceable for the whole length of their construction. There is
a possible entrance on the eastern side.
The site was first located by an aerial photograph in 1986 and then partly
excavated in 1986 and 1987. This has revealed that the enclosed area
contained circular buildings and pens for livestock. A scatter of Roman
pottery in the ploughsoil and a large sample of pottery known as Cheshire
stony VCP found on the site confirm that it was occupied in at least
three phases during the period 500 BC to AD 200.
The post and rail fence on the edge of the slope on the west and south sides
of the fort is not included in the scheduling but the ground beneath it is

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

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 west of Great Woolden Hall is well preserved in spite of
the extensive later ploughing of the fields in which the monument is situated.
The remains of buildings and stockpounds are conserved below the ploughsoil
and much information about the environment at the time of the fort's
occupation will be preserved in the fillings of the ditches.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Nevell, M, 'Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal' in Great Woolden Hall Farm, (1988), 35-44
Nevell, M, 'Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal' in Great Woolden Hall Farm, (1988), 36-39

Source: Historic England

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