Castle How hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013384

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Oct-1995


Ordnance survey map of Castle How hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: Wythop

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 20173 30827


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

In the northern uplands a number of small hillforts or fortified enclosures of varying shape have been identified. These are all located on hilltops or distinctive craggy knolls, generally have an internal area of less than 1ha, and are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more closely set earthworks, usually ditches with or without adjacent banks or ramparts. Ditches are often rock cut and the associated ramparts, where they exist, are usually largely of stone construction. These defences entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories or rocky knolls, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. The layout of the site is heavily dependent upon the topography of the location. The core area of the site, where the main living accommodation was provided, normally occupies the highest position on the hill or crag. Additional living or working areas are also frequently located between or within the surrounding earthworks and may take the form of rock cut levelled areas which enhance lower natural terraces on the hill. They are mostly of Iron Age date and are contemporary with other more common hillfort types. Some, however, may have been reused or have been new constructions in post Roman times. Hillforts of this type are rare, with fewer than 100 identified examples in England. In view of this rarity, their importance for hillfort studies, and their importance for understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance. Castle How hillfort is a good example of this class of monument. It survives well and its defensive earthworks in particular remain well preserved. It will retain evidence of the activities undertaken within the site and the methods utilised in its defence.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Castle How hillfort. It is located on the summit of Castle How, a rocky hillock rising steeply above the western shore of Bassenthwaite Lake. The ground falls steeply on the monument's north and south sides. To the east and west there are earthworks which defend the fort along its easiest line of approach. These defences include a series of four rock cut ditches with banks and counterscarps on the western side, and two rock cut ditches with banks and counterscarps on the eastern side. Access into the hillfort's interior is on the eastern side via a path which passes through a gap in the outer bank and across a causeway over the inner ditch. This entrance is defended by a rocky hummock c.2m high located between the inner and outer ditches, and which is dished out artificially so as to provide a rock breastwork. The summit of the hillfort is an artificially levelled plateau measuring c.38.5m east-west by 18m north-south. The north side of the summit is raised up to 0.7m high suggesting it formed the footings of an earth or stone rampart of which no other trace now exists. On the south east side of the summit, overlooking the inner ditch, there is a small ledge measuring c.6.5m by 2.7m which is interpreted as a hut platform. On this ledge R G Collingwood found fragments of pot boilers (cobbles which would be heated then dropped into pots of water) during an inspection of the site in the early 1920's. Also visible during Collingwood's inspection was a cobble stone revetment in the innermost western and outermost eastern ditches and along the northern edge of the hillfort just below the summit. Amongst the stones used for this revetment Collingwood found more pot boilers and pieces of red sandstone, one of which had parallel chisel tooling which he interpreted as being of Roman origin and which was given to Keswick Museum, and another which he considered to be part of a Roman roofing tile.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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: 23792

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Collingwood, R G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Castle How, Peel Wyke, , Vol. XXIV, (1924), 78-87

End of official listing