Castercliff small multivallate hillfort


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Pendle (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 88487 38395

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They 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. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

Despite some damage to the ramparts and hillfort interior by open-cast mineral extraction and bell-pits, the monument survives reasonably well. It remains unencumbered by modern development and will retain evidence for the settlement within the hillfort's interior and for the construction methods and phasing of the ramparts. It is a rare example of a small multivallate hillfort in north- west England and one of only three examples of this type of monument in Lancashire.


The monument is Castercliff Iron Age small multivallate hillfort. It is located on an eminence overlooking the Calder Valley and includes an oval-shaped internal plateau measuring approximately 115m by 76m that is enclosed on all sides except the north by three rubble ramparts, each up to 1.5m high and situated on the slope of the hill, with an external ditch up to 1.5m deep in front of each. The maximum width of the whole rampart and ditch system is approximately 46m. On the north side the defences are incomplete and consist in the main of a single rampart and ditch. However some short lengths of triple rampart and ditch separated by areas of undisturbed ground are also visible here. Limited excavation of the defences indicated that the inner rampart was revetted with stone and also timber-laced.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Forde-Johnson, J, Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales, (1976), 101,106
Harrison, W, Archaeological Survey of Lancashire, (1896), 8
Watkins, W T, Roman Lancashire, (1883), 199
Whittaker, TD, History of Whalley, (1801), 26-7
Wilkinson, T T, 'Trans Lancs & Chesh Antiq Soc' in , , Vol. 9, (1856), 9
N595-613, N1063, N1466-8, SF1344:1-7, Lancs Univ Arch Unit,
Raymond,F., MPP Single Mon Class Descriptions - Small Multivallate Hillforts, (1989)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPFW, Iles,P. (Lancs SMR Officer), (1992)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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