Castlesteads multivallate prehistoric defended enclosure
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008236
Date first listed: 25-Nov-1938
Date of most recent amendment: 30-Mar-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Eden (District Authority)
Parish: Yanwath and Eamont Bridge
National Grid Reference: NY 51857 25187
Reasons for Designation
During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of
different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied
in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts
built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites,
sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended
settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops,
others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of
earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate),
others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen
ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber
fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built
round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept
in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed
yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single
family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction
and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through
to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD).
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are
important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during
this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national
Despite partial obliteration of the defences on the northern and eastern side of the monument, Castlesteads prehistoric defended settlement survives reasonably well, its earthworks in particular remaining largely well preserved where they survive. It overlooks the valley of the River Lowther, a tributary of the Eden, and lies in an area where rich agricultural soils supported a considerable prehistoric and Romano-British population from Neolithic times onwards. The monument will contribute to any further study of early settlement patterns in the area.
The monument includes Castlesteads multivallate prehistoric defended
enclosure. It is located on a slight knoll in Yanwath Wood overlooking a bend
in the River Lowther to the south and east, and includes a roughly circular
enclosure partially defended by three ramparts and two ditches.
The enclosure measures approximately 53m in diameter and contains internal
features which include a cross wall running east-west which virtually divides
the interior into two equal halves. In the northern half there are faint
traces of other walls together with some shallow circular depressions thought
to have been the sites of hut circles. The enclosure has two entrances, one on
the northern side, the other directly opposite. Defending the enclosure on its
western and much of its southern sides are three earthen ramparts and two
ditches; the outer rampart measures c.10m wide by 2m high, the middle rampart
measures c.9m wide by 2.5m high, and the inner rampart measures c.6.5m wide by
1.5m high. On the eastern and northern sides a path and a forestry track have
partially obliterated the outer and middle ramparts.
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.
Legacy System number: 23675
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Challis, , Harding, , 'British Archaeological Reports' in Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne, , Vol. 20 pt(i), (1975), 122
Jobey, G, 'CBA Res Rep' in Rural Settlement in Roman Britain, , Vol. Rep 7, (1966), 11
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
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