Warton Crag small multivallate hillfort


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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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.

Lancaster (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 49222 72885

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 remains are believed to be of national importance.

Despite a thick covering of trees and vegetation, Warton Crag small multivallate hillfort survives reasonably well. It remains largely 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 class of monument in Lancashire.


The monument is an Iron Age small multivallate hillfort containing remains of stone huts located on the summit of Warton Crag overlooking Morecambe Bay. It includes a sub-rectangular enclosure of approximately 3.2ha in extent occupying the summit of the crag, and is defended by a combination of rock scarps and steep slopes to the south and west, and three stone ramparts to the north and east. The ramparts measure between 3m-7m wide and are up to 1.3m high and are set roughly parallel to each other and approximately 50m-60m apart. Within the enclosure are boulder foundations of three sub-rectangular huts constructed against a long low rock escarpment. Immediately outside the inner rampart a further two hut foundations are located against the same escarpment. To the south, below the main summit of the crag, faint traces of a bank and ditch have recently been observed along the edge of a limestone shelf. To the north of the outer rampart antiquarian sources noted the existence of numerous oval tumuli. These are no longer clearly visible as earthworks, but below ground remains, including the remains of any deep burial pits, are anticipated to survive well. The summit cairn, which is a modern construction, and all walls and fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

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
Farrer, W, Brownbill, J, The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire, (1914), 509-11
Forde-Johnson, J, Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales, (1976), 161
? Iles,P., MPP Selection of monuments of national importance - Hillforts, (1991)
Capstick, B., AM107, (1986)
Hutchinson,W., Account of Antiquities in Lancashire (in a letter to G. Allan), (1788)
Raymond,F., MPP Single Mon Class Descriptions - Small Multivallate Hillforts, (1989)


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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