Promontory fort on Burton Point 550m south west of Burton Point Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Promontory fort on Burton Point 550m south west of Burton Point 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 West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 30336 73568

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 Burton Point survives well despite the quarry and trackway which have both cut into it. It is similar to Iron Age forts found on the rocky coasts of Cornwall, Wales and the Isle of Man and is the only example of this type in this area of England. Unusually, it may also have served as a high status homestead during the post Roman period. Few such sites have been identified in this area.


The monument includes a promontory fort formed by a single bank and external ditch which cuts off a small promontory known as Burton Point overlooking the estuary of the River Dee on the south west coast of the Wirral. Presently the settlement looks out over marshland and a crossing of the estuary to Basingwerk on the opposite bank of the estuary. Before the 18th century the east bank of the tidal estuary came up to the Point, and the rocks below the fort show signs of the erosion by wave action that resulted. To the north of the enclosure the rock has been extensively quarried for the hard sandstone underneath. This may have happened on the south side also resulting in the destruction of part of the enclosed area in this sector. The single rampart stands up to 5m high and is 12m wide at the base. It curves around to form a 50 degree angle for 68m and encloses a triangular tip of the promontory. The external ditch is 2m deep. Both ends of the defences have been truncated by erosion and quarrying. A trackway has been pushed through the defences on the south east side leading down to the present quarry floor below the fort. This is 6m wide and has further degraded the earthworks. The area enclosed by the rampart is 0.9ha in extent and is sufficient for a single farmstead. The fort seems at first sight to be one of a number of promontory forts in the county dating to the Iron Age. However the small size of this monument and the coastal situation seem more akin to the cliff forts of the coast of Wales and the Isle of Man. Some of the latter were the farmsteads of Scandanavian local dignitaries, although the type dates from the Iron Age through to the early medieval period. Close to the fort a cemetery including the remains of 50 or 60 burials of an unknown date was excavated in 1878. These were without grave goods and might have been of an early Christian date. They may also have been the remains of the boat crew of 41 drowned in 1637 and recorded in the parish register. At present there is no evidence that they were associated with the occupation of the fort.

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
Bu'lock, J D, Pre Conquest Cheshire, (1972)
Longley, D, Prehistoric Sites in Cheshire, (1979), 41
Sulley, P, The Hundred of Wirral, (1889), 170
Ordnance Survey , Ordnance Survey Record Card, (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

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