Large univallate hillfort on Ingleborough Hill.


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.

North Yorkshire
Craven (District Authority)
Clapham cum Newby
North Yorkshire
Craven (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SD 74193 74511

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The hillfort on Ingleborough is a well preserved and geographically isolated example of a large univallate hillfort; it is also the highest in England. Although the rampart is somewhat disturbed by land slippage and other forms of erosion including human pressure on the site, substantial areas remain intact. These include sections of the rampart, which is considered to be unique in its construction in England. In addition a number of hut circle foundations are clearly discernible.


The large univallate hillfort on Ingleborough is built on the roughly triangular gritstone cap which overlies the sandstone, shale and limestone beds, thereby forming a plateau on the summit of the hill. The whole of this summit, except for a protruding spur at the north east corner, has been enclosed by a stone built rampart. In the interior are traces of twenty roughly circular stone founded buildings. The rampart is of a highly unusual construction. It includes a gritstone wall 3m-5m thick, the rear face of which is formed of large orthostatic stone slabs set vertically. The outer face is of a drystone wall construction. Internally the rampart survives to a maximum height of about 1m, externally it reaches about 3m at the south east corner. The wall faces are generally obscured by tumbled material except near the north east corner where the outer face stands five or six courses high for short lengths. Shallow depressions which reach a maximum depth of 0.5m are evident to the rear of the rampart and are the result of quarrying; slight ditches outside the rampart seem also to have the same origin. Between the outer face of the rampart and the break of the natural slope a flat space or berm of up to 10m has been left. To the south and west sides of the circuit it is much less evident due to rampart tumble. Along the northern edge of the fort the rampart is entirely absent, on the west side it is interrupted by the natural slope. The rampart is constructed in compartments or boxes known as 'throughs' with stones set at right angles to the outer face, sometimes at intervals of as little as 2m. These compartments are filled with rubble. The remains of twenty hut circles are visible within the rampart, the majority of which are situated on the more sheltered eastern side of the fort and clustered in discrete groups. The huts show little variation in size or form all being between about 5.5m and 8m in diameter, within rubble stone walls standing up to 0.3m high and spread up to 3m wide. Most of the huts are now partially turf covered but at some, slight gullies 1m wide and 0.1m deep are now visible around their uphill sides, probably for drainage. The huts are by no means perfect circles, a number have flattened arcs on at least one side. Entrances have been found on a small number of the huts, the better defined of these face south east. The hillfort was first noted in literature by Phillips in 1855 who provided a detailed description and an accurate small scale plan by James Farrer. It subsequently received scant attention until the detailed survey and paper by the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England produced in 1989. The triangulation point is included in the scheduling. The modern shelter is excluded although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

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Books and journals
Bowden, M C B, Mackay, D A, Blood, N K (RCHME), Ingleborough Hillfort, (1988)
Phillips, J, The Rivers, Mountains and Sea Coast of Yorkshire, (1855)
Bowden, M C B, Mackay, D A, Blood, NK (RCHME), 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society.' in A New Survey of Ingleborough Hillfort, North Yorkshire., (1989), 267-271
King, A, 'Y.A.S. Prehistory Research Section Bulletin.' in The Ingleborough Hillfort, North Yorkshire, , Vol. 24, (1987)
Raistrick, A, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.' in Iron Age Settlement In West Yorkshire., , Vol. 34, (1939), 115-50


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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