Eddisbury hillfort east of Old Pale Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 25-May-2019 at 10:05:23.
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 55328 69345
Reasons for Designation
Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
The hillfort at Eddisbury is well preserved around much of its defences, and the interior will retain much archaeological information in spite of the ploughing of the fields in the middle. The fort is of a type familiar in forts on the Welsh side of the marches but unusual in Cheshire. It has additional value as an example of reoccupation after the departure of the Roman army and as such is rare indeed.
The monument includes a bivallate (double rampart) hill fort. It is situated
on an outcrop of the sandstone ridge which bisects the county from the estuary
of the Mersey to the Welsh border south of Wrexham. This spur slopes steeply
to the north east and south and is connected to the Pale Heights on the north
west side. The fort overlooks the plain formed by the valley of the Weaver.
It is formed by reinforcing the scarp on each side with a double rampart
and intervening ditch. This is now traceable along the northern and north
western sides of the monument. On the eastern side the defences are reduced by
ploughing and at certain points by a stone quarry on the north eastern side
and a small quarry on the northern side.
The present ramparts are revetted with dry stone visible along the length of
the inner rampart on the north side. This rampart is 15m wide and the
intervening ditch is 10m wide. This bank is 6m high and the ditch is 0.5m
deep. The outer rampart is 16m wide at the base and rises to 5.5m high
externally. There is no outside ditch. The interior is under plough over the
whole area on the central and eastern side. A disused stone quarry occupies
the centre of the fort. There are no visible traces of occupation in the
interior of the defended area although extensive remains will survive beneath
the modern ploughed surface. The area enclosed by the defences is 5.4ha in
In the north west corner is a well defined inturned entrance in the inner
rampart. In the south east corner at Merrick's Hill there is a trackway
leading up to the defences with a gap through the degraded ramparts which is
also of some antiquity.
Excavations over the last 60 years have suggested the following sequence of
activity in the hill fort. The first occupation was possibly in the Late
Bronze Age; this was undefended. The second phase was a small univallate
(single rampart) fortification of the east half of the hill with an entrance
with guard rooms in the south east corner. Then the defences were extended
over the western half, being constructed with two ramparts as visible today.
It was in this period that the entrance was formed in the north west corner.
The site was destroyed during the Roman occupation of the region.
The site was reoccupied during the period fourth to sixth centuries AD and
excavations have revealed huts with stone kerbs built over the ruins of the
inner rampart in the western half of the fort. These were occupied and used
as dwellings and workshops. A number of sherds of pottery from this period
have been collected.
The post and wire fences, and the surface of the lane from Old Pale Farm to
the fields to the north of the farm 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. 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), 43
Varley, W J, 'Trans.Lancs Ches.Arch.Soc.' in Eddisbury, , Vol. 102, (1950), 1-168
Cheshire SMR, (1994)
Davies, MG, The Castle Ditch Eddisbury, (1990)
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