Eston Nab hill fort, palisaded settlement and beacon


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


Ordnance survey map of Eston Nab hill fort, palisaded settlement and beacon
© 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.

Redcar and Cleveland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NZ 56759 18267

Reasons for Designation

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for between 150 and 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features include square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Eston Nab is the only surviving hillfort of any date in the county of Cleveland; it is very well preserved and, although it has been subject to partial excavation, the extent of disturbance is limited and its archaeological deposits remain largely intact. Evidence relating to its construction and to the complex history of the entire hilltop as well as the nature and duration of its use will be preserved within the archaeological deposits. Evidence relating to the Bronze Age environment around the monument and of the wider landscape will also survive. The importance of this monument is enhanced by the survival of contemporary settlements and funerary monuments in the vicinity; such evidence provides a clear indication of the extent of Bronze Age settlement and activity in the area and has the potential to increase greatly our knowledge of Bronze Age society.


The monument includes a Late Bronze Age hillfort, a palisaded settlement, at least one Bronze Age bowl barrow and a 19th century beacon, situated on a steep, north facing scarp edge with extensive views in all directions. The hillfort, semi-circular in shape, has maximum dimensions of 250m from east-west and 120m from north-south within a defensive bank, ditch and counterscarp bank. The defensive bank survives to a maximum height of 1m and the ditch, from which the material to build the bank was quarried, varies in width from 4-6 metres and is on average 1m deep. A break for the original entrance appears on the south-eastern side. A counter-scarp bank, constructed of surplus material quarried from the ditch, lies outside of the main defences; it is up to 4m wide and survives to a height of 1m. Within the defensive circuit there are several features relating to the use of the hillfort, including at least one round house revealed by excavation. A stone walled enclosure, set against the southern part of the bank is contemporary with or later than the hillfort. Excavation has shown that the first activity on the hilltop was in the Early Bronze Age. A low fragment of the mound of a bowl barrow constructed during this period can be seen near the scarp edge. Flint tools of broadly similar date were also found. The hilltop was first enclosed by two phases of wooden palisade during the Late Bronze Age before the construction of the more massive bank and ditch visible today. Although the palisades are no longer visible at ground level, their foundation slots survive as buried features. In the south-eastern section of the hillfort, where a modern monument marks its position there are the remains of a square, stone beacon. This is situated within a small quadrangular enclosure and is believed to have been erected in the early 19th century when it served as a beacon or lookout post during the Napoleonic wars. The Eston beacon monument and the trig point are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

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Books and journals
Vyner, B E, 'Bulletin of the Cleveland, Teeside Local History Society' in The Napoleonic Beacon on Eston Nab, , Vol. 54, (1988), 1-5
Vyner, B E, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Hill-Fort at Eston Nab, Eston, Cleveland, , Vol. 145, (1988), 60-98
Vyner, B E, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Hill-fort at Eston Nab, Eston, Cleveland, , Vol. 145, (1989), 60-98


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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