Promontory fort called Castlesteads on the east bank of the Irwell 550m SSE of Banks Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014720

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Promontory fort called Castlesteads on the east bank of the Irwell 550m SSE of Banks Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014720 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Jan-2019 at 00:43:13.


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

District: Bury (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SD 79694 12989


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

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 at Castlesteads is well preserved in spite of the truncation of the central features by ploughing. The ditch and additional rampart on the north eastern corner are clearly visible. The interior of the settlement has been evaluated and this has shown that extensive remains of the dwellings and pits for storage and waste disposal remain in the central area. The fill of the ditch will contain important evidence of the construction and later settlement of the site.


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


The monument includes a defended settlement on a natural promontory overlooking the floodplain of the River Irwell, 550m SSE of Banks Farm. The nose of the promontory is cut off by a ditch 6m wide running from north to south for 120m and meeting the edge of the steep scarp at both ends. The interior of the fort is a triangular plateau with its northern side 100m long and the southern side 140m long. The defences of these two sides are formed by the steep slope of the natural scarp falling away to the river bank on the north side. On the south side there is the silted former channel of the Irwell which would have further defended the site in the past. At the north east corner a rampart has been constructed to continue the defence of the top of the steep scarp on the northern side. This continues past the ditch, which interrupts it, and into the field to the east of the monument for 20m. An evaluation of the site in 1982 confirmed that the ditch is 0.5m deep and that the interior contains extensive remains of pits and the post holes of former buildings in the central area. No more than 2% of the site was excavated. Pottery and dated radio-carbon samples from the site show that it was occupied for a period from c.200 BC to AD 250. The post and wire fencing at the edges of the site are not included in the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 27584

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Farrer, J, Brownbill, W (eds), The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire: Volume II, (1908), 553-4
North West Archaeological Surveys, , Castlesteads Bury Evaluation Report, (1992)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition Source Date: 1844 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing