Burwains Camp prehistoric defended settlement west of Broad Bank Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Burnley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 90239 35227

Reasons for Designation

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD). Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national importance.

Burwains Camp prehistoric defended settlement survives reasonably well and remains unencumbered by modern development. The 1950 excavation was limited in extent but located occupation evidence consisting of hearths, flint tools and a polished stone axehead, and confirming the monument's archaeological value. The site will retain further evidence of its prehistoric occupation and use which will contribute to a fuller understanding of its development.


The monument includes Burwains Camp prehistoric defended settlement. It is located on a hilltop on the northern side of the steep-sided Thursden Valley and includes a circular enclosure surrounded by an inner ditch and an outer bank. The enclosure measures approximately 45m in diameter, the ditch measures c.0.3m wide by 0.25m deep, and the outer bank measures c.2m wide and up to 0.3m high. There are opposed entrances through the bank and across the ditch on the west and east sides. The results of limited excavation in 1950 suggest that the monument is prehistoric in origin. The surrounding bank consisted of boulder clay from the ditch. Beneath the bank a small hearth was found together with a deposit of charcoal and burnt earth indicating either earlier prehistoric activity or modifications to the bank and ditch during the occupation of the monument. A second small hearth was found approximately 3m WSW of the enclosure's centre. Artefacts located during the excavation included a number of worked flint and chert flakes, and a polished stone axehead which, upon examination, was found to come from the Neolithic axe factory in Great Langdale, Cumbria. This axehead was found in an unstratified context and cannot thus be taken to be chronologically associated with the construction or occupation of the monument.

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.

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Books and journals
Powell, T G F, 'Trans Hist Soc Lancs & Chesh' in Excavation of Circular Enclosure at Broad Bank, Briercliffe, , Vol. 104, (1952), 145-51


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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