Eddisbury hillfort east of Old Pale Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Eddisbury hillfort east of Old Pale Farm
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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 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 national importance.

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 extent. 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.

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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

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