Subcircular enclosed settlement on Horse Close Hill 250m north of Horse Close Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015629

Date first listed: 31-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of Subcircular enclosed settlement on Horse Close Hill 250m north of Horse Close Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Skipton

National Grid Reference: SD 99653 50468


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

Reasons for Designation

Hilltop enclosures are defined as sub-rectangular or elongated areas of ground, usually between 10ha and 40ha in size, situated on hilltops or plateaux and surrounded by slight univallate earthworks. They date to between the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth-fifth centuries BC) and are usually interpreted as stock enclosures or sites where agricultural produce was stored. Many examples of hilltop enclosures may have developed into more strongly defended sites later in the Iron Age period and are therefore often difficult to recognise in their original form. The earthworks generally consist of a bank separated from an external ditch by a level berm. Access to the interior was generally provided by two or three entrances which consisted of simple gaps in the rampart. Evidence for internal features is largely dependent on excavation, and to date this has included large areas of sparsely scattered features including post and stakeholes, hearths and pits. Rectangular or square buildings are also evident; these are generally defined by between four and six postholes and are thought to have supported raised granaries. Hilltop enclosures are rare, with between 25 and 30 examples recorded nationally. A greater number may exist but these could have been developed into hillforts later in the Iron Age and could only be confirmed by detailed survey or excavation. The majority of known examples are located in two regions, on the chalk downland of Wessex and Sussex and in the Cotswolds. More scattered examples are found in north-east Oxfordshire and north Northamptonshire. This class of monument has not been recorded outside England. In view of the rarity of hilltop enclosures and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

This enclosure is an unusual example of an Iron Age hilltop settlement. Its situation and form bear some resemblance to the smaller hillforts of the period. It is, however, smaller than most hillforts, and lacks the ditches and ramparts usually associated with that type of feature. The orthostatic wall surrounding the Horse Close Hill settlement is too slight to have had a defensive function. This settlement survives well, and provides an example of a small settlement type, thus making a significant contribution to the study of settlement and social organisation in the Iron Age.


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


The monument includes an enclosed Iron Age hilltop settlement visible as a sub-circular enclosure c.50m in diameter. It is situated near Skipton, on the top of Horse Close Hill, 250m north of Horse Close Farm. The outer wall consists of a double row of orthostats up to 1m high, with rubble and boulders between. The orthostatic wall appears to be a later addition; originally, the settlement was unenclosed. The enclosed area is sub-divided by a number of additional rubble banks. On the north west side, the enclosure is overridden by a fieldwall, and has been destroyed by quarrying c.1m to the north west of the wall. Hut circles would have occupied the interior of the enclosure and evidence of these will survive beneath the present ground surface. The modern fieldwall on the north west side of the enclosure is excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath the wall is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29151

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Prehistoric Research Society' in Y A S. Prehistoric Research Society Bulletin, , Vol. 7, (1969), 1
'Prehistoric Research Society' in Y A S Prehistoric Research Society Bulletin, , Vol. 6, (1968), 1
'Prehistoric Research Society' in Y A S Prehistoric Research Society Bulletin, , Vol. 4, (1966), 2
Sites and Monuments Record, (1989)

End of official listing