The Armada Beacon, Alderley Edge


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of The Armada Beacon, Alderley Edge
© 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 - 1019850 .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 23-Oct-2019 at 06:54:49.


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

Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
Nether Alderley
National Grid Reference:
SJ 85846 77732

Reasons for Designation

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church towers. Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow. They are funerary monuments belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. The mounds covered single or multiple burials often accompanied by grave goods. They provide important information about the diversity of beliefs and social groupings amongst early prehistoric peoples. The Armada beacon on Beacon Hill, Alderley Edge,is a good surviving example of a stone-built beacon platform which formed one of a system of beacons erected throughout England as a response to the threat of invasion during the 16th century. The foundations of the original building survive beneath the ground on the summit of the mound on which it stands. It has a well-documented history and is a landmark of great local importance. It stands in land owned by the National Trust and is accessible to the public. The beacon will therefore provide a source for education and recreational interest for the community. In addition it is considered that the mound on which it stands was originally built as a bowl barrow in the Bronze Age. Such barrows rarely survive in Cheshire and this makes this large earthwork important in its own right.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a stone-built beacon platform on the summit of Beacon Hill, Alderley Edge. The earthen mound on which it has been constructed is considered to have been a bowl barrow of Bronze Age date. This barrow mound is large and may have been augmented when the beacon was constructed on the summit. The mound is of earth with some stone incorporated in the structure. It stands approximately 3m above ground level and is 25m wide at the base. The top of the mound was levelled for the foundations of a stone building to support the beacon with its fire basket and to store material such as pitch for the fire itself. This building was constructed in the 16th century and restored in 1799 on the foundations of the original building. The beacon building was blown down in 1931 and today only the foundations survive. These foundations are now visible as ashlar sandstone blocks, some bonded, at the apex of the mound and scattered around the base of the mound in the undergrowth. On the summit a memorial of stone has been erected. This is in the form of an altar-shaped table measuring 1.10m by 0.40m and standing 0.8m high. This has been built of ashlar blocks almost certainly reused from the original 1779 restored building on the site. Set into the top is a metal plaque which reads `SITE OF ARMADA BEACON THIS RECORD IS THE GIFT OF A FRIEND OF ALDERLEY EDGE NOW IN CALIFORNIA 1961'.

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:
Legacy System:


Alderley Edge NT SMR, (1998)


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].