Small multivallate hillfort and tower mill on Shackleton Beacon Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016867

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Oct-1999


Ordnance survey map of Small multivallate hillfort and tower mill on Shackleton Beacon Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. 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 - 1016867 .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 11-Dec-2018 at 06:27:46.


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

District: Darlington (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Heighington

National Grid Reference: NZ 22943 23298


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

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

A tower mill is a type of windmill in use during the late medieval and post- medieval periods, which owes its name to the housing of the milling gear in a tapering tower of brick, stone or wood. The sails are fixed to a rotating timber-framed cap. Towers built of stone or brick were usually circular in plan and their sides were protected from the weather by paint, tar or tiles. Used primarily for grinding grain. Tower mills had a wide distribution but, were most common in the grain growing areas of south and east England where there was insufficient water power to run an adequate number of water mills. In some areas tower mills were also used to pump water or saw wood. There were about 10,000 tower mills in England at the peak of their construction in the mid-18th century; they declined in use in the late 19th century due to increased use of steam power, although some continued to function into the 20th century. Formerly a common feature of the English landscape, less than 400 tower mills are known to survive, principally of the mid-18th to mid-19th century. Tower mills preserve valuable evidence for the development of milling technology and the economy from the late medieval period to the 20th century, and many have acquired important amenity and educational value. All examples surviving in good condition, particularly those which contain their machinery intact, demonstrate unusual characteristics or significant associations, are considered to be of national importance. Despite some remodelling during the late 18th century, the hillfort on Shackleton Beacon Hill is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. Hillforts are uncommon in County Durham and this is a good example of its type. It will contribute to our understanding of prehistoric settlement and society.


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


The monument includes a hillfort of Iron Age date, situated in a prominent position on the western end of a promontory protected on the north and west sides by steep natural slopes. There is a post-medieval tower mill situated within the western half of the hillfort. The hillfort is visible as a roughly oval enclosure 60m north west to south east by 75m north east to south west. The interior of the enclosure is on two levels. The western part, which is a level platform, measures 75m by 27m, while to the east, the ground falls steeply away to a lower area some 60m by 20m. On the north east side the enclosure is protected by double banks of stone and earth each 5m wide and standing up to 1m high, separated by a medial ditch 5m wide and 1m deep. On the south and western sides the defences follow the natural slope of the hill; on these sides they are stronger and there is a sequence of four ditches and ramparts which decrease in size and strength down slope. The ramparts vary in height from 2.5m to 0.2m and they are on average 7m wide. The ditches vary between 0.2m and 3m deep and are on average 7m wide. There is a causewayed entrance through the defences on the south eastern side of the monument, occupied by a later trackway. The tower mill was remodelled in the late 18th century to form a stone folly. It is visible as a stone circular structure 6.5m in diameter with walls 0.8m thick standing up to 3m high.

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: 32720

Legacy System: RSM


DCC SMR 1453,
NZ22SW 04,

End of official listing