Castle Hill prehistoric defended enclosure


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012822

Date first listed: 03-Nov-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill prehistoric defended enclosure
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Lancaster (District Authority)

Parish: Leck

National Grid Reference: SD 65039 77928


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 importance.

Despite minor surface disturbance which has damaged the defensive earthworks and the interior of the enclosure in places, Castle Hill prehistoric defended enclosure survives reasonably well. It overlooks a tributary of the River Lune and is one of a number of prehistoric and Romano-British settlements similarly located in close proximity to the Lune valley. The monument will contribute to any further study of early settlement patterns in the area.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Castle Hill prehistoric defended enclosure located on a flat-topped spur to the east of Leck Beck, from where there are extensive views south and west along the lower course of the Lune valley. It includes a sub-circular enclosure containing two hut circles which is surrounded by defensive earthworks comprising three banks and two ditches. The enclosure measures approximately 80m by 67m internally and has entrances at the north and south sides connected by a trackway running across the site. To the west of the trackway, against the inner bank of the monument, there is a sub-circular hut circle measuring c.18m in diameter together with what are now a number of incoherent banks and hollows which were described by W G Collingwood in 1924 as hut circles. To the east of the trackway is a second hut circle of similar size to that surviving in the western part of the enclosure. The inner bank surrounding the enclosure survives as a slight earthwork visible in places as a low mound up to 4m wide. Beyond the inner bank is a shallow ditch 6m-11m wide. Beyond this is the central of the three banks which survives, like the inner bank, as a low earthwork up to 4m wide. This is flanked by an outer ditch measuring c.9m wide by 0.5m deep, and a substantial outer bank of stone and earth up to 6m wide and 1.2m high. The trackway cuts through the banks and is carried on a causeway across the outer ditch.

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: 23769

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Collingwood, W G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Proceedings, , Vol. XXV, (1924), 367
Lowndes, R, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Celtic Fields, Farms And Burial Mounds In The Lune Valley, , Vol. LXIII, (1963), 92-5
FMW Report, Capstick, B, Castle Hill, (1993)
In Lancs SMR Ref no 672, Castle Hill,
In Lancs SMR ref no. 672, Turner, RC, Castle Hill, (1978)
SMR No. 672, Lancs SMR, Castle Hill, (1984)

End of official listing