Oakmere promontory fort on the east bank of Oakmere 300m north west of Corner Farm
- 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.
- Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SJ 57591 67847
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
The promontory fort at Oakmere survives well in spite of the fragility of its construction from the sands and gravels of the Cheshire plain. The rampart and ditch are well defined and the shallow ploughing of the interior will not have severely damaged the evidence of dwellings and settlement remains in the interior.
The monument includes a univallate (single rampart) promontory fort located on
the east bank of Oakmere 300m north west of Corner Farm. It is situated on the
level glacial outwash sands and gravels which surround Oakmere. The landscape
is gently undulating with open water, the meres, occupying the shallow
The monument has a single bank with an external ditch which curves around the neck of a promontory jutting out into the Oakmere defining a triangular interior whose sides are approximately 200m long. The approach from the west is level with a small natural gully on the north west side of the fort.
The bank or rampart has been spread by cultivation to 30m wide at its widest point but still stands to a height of 2m through most of its length. The ditch from which the material for the rampart was derived is 18m wide and 1.5m deep on average. At its northern end the ditch is 2.5m deep where it meets the terrace which represents the original water level of the mere at the time of the construction of the fort. At the southern end the ditch has been cut around the terminal of the bank to form a narrow entrance with a steep slope on the southern side.
The southern and northern sides of the fort are naturally defended by steep slopes down to the narrow terrace on the bank of the mere. In the centre of the rampart there is a causeway across the ditch and a gap in the bank which has been formed more recently to make access to the interior for farm machinery.
The interior area is 0.9ha in extent and has been cultivated over many years. There is no visible trace of internal features although significant remains will exist beneath the modern ground surface. The bedrock has been exposed in some areas. There is a suggestion of a defensive bank along the north side to reinforce the slope.
An excavation trench across the bank and ditch in 1960 revealed that the rampart was of simple dump construction possibly reinforced with timber and that the ditch was round bottomed and 2.5m deep at that point.
The fort is unusual in being on the low-lying sandy plain. This suggests that it was a defended settlement in an area of farmland used both for stock rearing and arable. The type of site is one of a group of promontory forts in Cheshire. Most of these are on more commanding positions on spurs overlooking the coastal plain or the wide valley of the Dee.
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.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Longley, D, Prehistoric Sites in Cheshire, (1979), 46
Forde-Johnston, J, 'Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Archaeological Society' in Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Archaeological Society, (1962), 21-23
Cheshire SMR, (1994)
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