Promontory fort on Live Moor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Promontory fort on Live Moor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Hambleton (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NZ 49593 01270

Reasons for Designation

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 important.

This monument has a well preserved rampart and ditch. Significant archaeological evidence will be contained within the ditch and evidence of earlier landuse will be preserved beneath the banks. This monument is one of a series of similar sites along the western escarpment of the Hambleton Hills. Together they form a network of small defended settlements in commanding positions, designed to protect their inhabitants and perhaps defend larger land holdings. They also have importance in demonstrating the prestige of their builders. They thus provide important evidence of the nature and stability of settlement and society in the late prehistoric period.


The monument includes a hillfort occupying a prominent natural knoll on the west end of Live Moor in the north west area of the Hambleton Hills. It is sub-circular in shape, with a prominent rampart, external ditch and a counterscarp bank to the ENE and south. To the west and north west the monument is defined by a steep scarp slope with traces of a bank along the west edge. At the south east there is a further bank and ditch extending 40m to the south, forming an outwork linking the hillfort to natural topographic features. The rampart is up to 9m wide and stands to a height of 2.2m above the base of the ditch. The ditch itself is 5m wide at the top narrowing to 0.5m at the bottom. The counterscarp bank is 3m wide and stands to a height of 0.75m. There is an entrance on the east side 3m wide narrowing to 1m at the centre. The interior of the hillfort is relatively level and measures 120m across. A well worn footpath carrying the Cleveland Way crosses the northern part of the monument. There are a number of promontory forts along the northern and western escarpment of the Hambleton Hills. They were local foci and provide evidence of the consolidation of settlement and social organisation in the late prehistoric period. As such they can be contrasted with the more dispersed hut circle settlements also found on the North York Moors and which are of a broadly contemporary date.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Manby, T, 'Settlement and Society in the British Later Bronze Age' in Later Bronze Age in Eastern Yorkshire, , Vol. BAR 83, (1980), 120
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1993), 152-54
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1993), 123-128


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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