Maiden Castle promontory fort on Bickerton Hill 700m west of Hill Farm


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


Ordnance survey map of Maiden Castle promontory fort on Bickerton Hill 700m west of Hill Farm
© 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.

Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 49766 52876

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.

The promontory fort on Bickerton Hill survives well in spite of the quarries in the interior. It has well preserved ramparts which will preserve and retain significant information on the timber lacing used in their construction.


The monument includes a bivallate (double rampart) promontory hillfort on Bickerton Hill. It is situated on one of the highest points of the sandstone ridge which bisects the county from the estuary of the Mersey to the Welsh border near Wrexham. Bickerton Hill is at the southern end of this ridge and overlooks the broad valley of the River Dee.

The fort occupies a point on the edge of a cliff on the south western side of the hill. It is not on a promontory but is cut off from the surrounding land by two semicircular ramparts which do not appear to have an intervening ditch. The form of the fort is therefore similar to other bivallate promontory forts in this region.

The west side of the fort is defended by the cliff edge. On the south and east sides are two concentric curving ramparts from cliff edge to cliff edge. The inner rampart stands 2m high and was revetted with dry stone walling. The earthen bank was also reinforced with timber strapping in bands set into the inner face of the revetting. The outer rampart was a timber palisade later replaced by a dump rampart which was revetted with dry stone walling on its outer face. On the eastern side and 40m from the northern cliff edge there is an inturned gap of 10m forming an entrance in the inside rampart. The corresponding gap in the outer rampart is 20m wide and may have vestigial hornworks curving back from the entrance for 30m on either side.

The interior has many small pits and mounds representing quarrying activity over a long period. There is a double bank running north-south on the western edge of the interior to the middle of the fort. This has been adopted as the parish boundary, and is met by a field boundary from the east which cuts the defences in the centre and turns westwards to meet the parish boundary in the centre of the west side. There is also evidence of the spoil heaps of previous excavations and numerous two-man slit trenches which indicate military use of the site in the 20th century.

The wooden steps and kerbs to the footpath as well as the infill material for the conservation of the footpaths are excluded from the scheduling, 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.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, Hillforts of Britain, (1975), 244-5
Varley, W J, 'Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology' in Maiden Castle Bickerton, , Vol. 23, (1936), 101-12
Cheshire SMR, (1994)
Milln, J, (1994)
Pearson G, Letter to Taylor J, (1980)


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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