Kelsborrow promontory fort on Castle Hill 300m south west of Castle Hill Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Kelsborrow promontory fort on Castle Hill 300m south west of Castle Hill Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jul-2019 at 06:57:14.


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 53155 67509

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 univallate promontory fort called Kelsborrow survives reasonably well in spite of the effects of ploughing over the last centuries. The interior will contain much archaeological material which can throw light on the settlement economy and status of the Iron Age peoples who built and inhabited it. The monument is one of small group of promontory forts in Cheshire.


The monument includes a univallate (single rampart) hill fort. It is situated on a promontory of Castle Hill and faces south overlooking Willington and the valley of the Dee. The hill is part of a ridge of red sandstone which traverses Cheshire from the coastal plain to the Welsh border in the south west corner of the county. This monument is one of a small number of hillforts on promontories on this ridge. The monument has a single bank with an external ditch cutting off the approach to the defended settlement on the north side. The remaining two sides of the triangular enclosure are very steep slopes down into two dry valleys which converge in Boothsdale below the fort. The area enclosed by the defences is 2.94ha in extent. The two fields which contain the monument have been regularly ploughed both for crops and reseeding for pasture. This has resulted in degradation of the defences so that the bank stands less than 0.4m high at any point along its length. It has been spread so that it is 30m wide where it is discernible. Despite this reduction and spreading the bank remains identifiable along its whole original length except at the eastern end, although this gap may be the entrance way. The bank is 400m long. Outside this is a largely infilled ditch now 20m wide. The antiquarian Ormerod, writing in 1882, could discern a couterscarp bank as well. However, neither aerial photographs nor present fieldwork can confirm this. It may be noted, however, that the normal form of the promontory fort in this area has two ramparts. In 1810 a bronze palstave was found within the defences, also a fragment of an iron sword in the same year. An excavation in 1973 revealed that the rampart had been revetted with timber, and postholes suggest reinforcement of the earthen bank with timber also. The original width of the rampart was 4m. The ditch had been dug 8.5m in front of the rampart with a sloping intervening berm. The modern field boundaries, and dry stone walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Ormerod, , History of Cheshire, (1882), 2
Ormerod, , History of Cheshire, (1882), 3
Coombs, D G, 'Manchester Archaeological Bulletin' in Manchester Archaeological Bulletin, (1988), 64-67


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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