Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

EN1616: Castle Hill, Almondbury  

Sources: Esri, DigitalGlobe, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, GeoEye, USDA FSA, USGS, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

HER:  West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service 2

NMR:  SE 11 SE 1 (49129)

SM:  1009846

NGR:  SE 15231 14043

X:  415231  Y:  414043  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

Lying on an oval, steep-sided flat-topped hill to the S of Huddersfield, the site of a univallate and later bivallate and multivallate hillfort now overlain by the defences of a 12th century motte and bailey castle and DMV. The site was excavated in 1939, 1946-7, 1969-70 and 1972, briefly summarised by Varley (1948, 1973 and 1976). The earthworks of the hillfort were shown by radiocarbon (C14) and thermoluminescence (TL) dating to have been constructed in phases over a period of approximately two hundred years. The earliest univallate enclosure was constructed in the late seventh century BC on the south-western half of the hill as a single bank approximately 3m wide possibly surmounted by a wooden palisade and enclosing 2.2h. The bank comprised a clay core with vertical flagstones supported by a drystone wall. An in-turned entrance has been identified in the NE flanked by a guardroom to one side. This was followed by a period of abandonment, then an open settlement occupying the entire summit with stone-kerbed huts. In the early sixth century BC a box-constructed timber rampart employing vertical and horizontal timbers was constructed on top of and partially following the alignment of the original bank, and formed from two rows of vertical slabs set in trenches separated by 3m with internal cellular walls filled with clay. The core was topped with flagstones that had stone lined-posts at 3m intervals. Externally there was a berm and flat-bottomed ditch 3m wide 2m deep and an external bank. An entrance lay in the NE. Occupation floors inside the rampart provided C14 dates of 595 +/- 95 bc. In the mid-sixth century the enclosure was refortified by two further banks and ditches enclosing the whole summit of the hill (3.7ha) using the same construction method as the univallate fort which itself was further reinforced by additional walling at that time. Huts of this period have been identified within the enclosure C14 dated to 520 +/- 110 bc, 555 +/- 95 BC and 530 +/- 110 bc. An entrance lay in the NE. The earlier bank and ditch was reinforced by a second rampart and postholes provide evidence for timbers for a shelter attached to the rampart. Finally a multivallate phase with C14 dates of 450 +/- 130 bc and 460 +/- 130 bc, enclosing 12ha. The earlier rampart was levelled and widened to cover the berm and half of the ditch and a new wall constructed. A V-shaped ditch and counterscarp surrounded the summit with a third dump rampart in the E and a fourth bank aligned on an entrance in the E. A holloway extended downslope from the eastern entrance which ran through the outer rampart. At the western end of the hill the outer rampart turned inwards creating a second entrance. A fifth bank on a level berm below the eastern entrance considered by Varley to enclose an annex with hut foundations was resurveyed in 1995 by RCHME and is now thought to be a combination of natural scarps, field walls and lynchets and the alleged entrance probably a hollow way. Vitrification of the rampart has occurred and TL dated to 431 +/- 180 bc. It is uncertain if this was deliberate or through the spontaneous combustion of the Coal Measures shale bank, aided by the structural timbers in the revetment. The site was abandoned by the end of the 5th century bc. All features within the hillfort are medieval or modern. Now occupied by two 19th century buildings and associated car parks. An earlier farm complex has damaged part of the course of the inner ditch, the second rampart and the multivallations in the E. Traces of ridge and furrow are also visible. Now a public open space, modern footpaths have cut across the ramparts. The overlying features are recorded on 1854 1:10,560 OS mapping.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -197169  Y:  7099022  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -1.771199  Latitude:  53.6227  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  England

Current County or Unitary Authority:  West Yorkshire

Historic County:   Yorkshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Huddersfield

Condition

Hillfort ramparts lie under 12th century features.Gravel paths have been laid on the top of the medieval ramparts and across parts of the interior to combat visitor erosion.

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

19th century buildings and car parks in the S with the remainder mainly under grass although parts of the ramparts are obscured by brambles and gorse

Woodland:  
Commercial Forestry Plantation:  
Parkland:  
Pasture (Grazing):  
Arable:  
Scrub/Bracken:  
Bare Outcrop:  
Heather/Moorland:  
Heath:  
Built-up:  
Coastal Grassland:  
Other:  

Landscape

Hillfort Type

A contour fort lying on at 274m OD on the summit of an oval, relatively flat-topped hill.

Contour Fort:  
Partial Contour Fort:  
Promontory Fort:  
Hillslope Fort:  
Level Terrain Fort:  
Marsh Fort:  
Multiple Enclosure Fort:  

Topographic Position

Hilltop:  
Coastal Promontory:  
Inland Promontory:  
Valley Bottom:  
Knoll/Hillock/Outcrop:  
Ridge:  
Cliff/Plateau-edge/Scarp:  
Hillslope:  
Lowland:  
Spur:  

Dominant Topographic Feature:  Summit of hill. Oval, relatively flat-topped hill

Aspect

North:  
Northeast:  
East:  
Southeast:  
South:  
Southwest:  
West:  
Northwest:  
Level:  

Elevation

Altitude:  274.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

Radiocarbon and thermoluminescence dating has provided a sequence of dates for construction and occupation beginning in the late 7th century with a final date of 450 +/- 130 bc, followed by vitrification of the rampart TL dated to 431 +/- 180 bc (Varley 1973).

Reliability:  A - High

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
800BC - 400BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Occupation began on the summit of the hill in the Neolithic, C14 date 2110 +/- 130 BC,

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  12th century Motte and Bailey castle. The hilltop is now occupied by two 19th century buildings and associated car parks. Earlier farm complex and probable associated ridge and furrow. Currently a public open space with the Jubilee Tower erected at the end of the 19th century to celebrate Queen Victoria┬És Diamond Jubilee.

Artefactual:  Three small pieces of Iron Age pottery
C14:  No details.

Investigations

The location is recorded on 1854 1:10,560 OS mapping. General reference in VCH York (1912). Field investigation in 1964. Excavations in 1939, 1946-7, 1969-70 and 1972 (Varley 1948, 1973 and 1976). RCHME survey, ref. no. 972473. 1995 geophysical survey. Further geophysical survey 2012-13 (ADS Grey Lit. Library. OASIS no: archaeol11-145385). Scheduled

1st Identified Map Depiction (1854):  
1st Identified Written Reference (1912):  
Other (1925):  Scheduled
Excavation (1939, 1946-7, 1972):  
Other (1964):  Field investigation
Other (1979):  Visit by Hillfort Study Group
Earthwork Survey (1983-2005):  
Geophysical Survey (1995):  Webb and Whittingham.
Geophysical Survey (2012-13):  Archaeological Services WYAS

Interior Features

Stone kerbed huts relating to the phase of open settlement in the late seventh century BC. Later huts have been identified within the enclosure C14 dated to 520 +/- 110 bc, 555 +/- 95 BC and 530 +/- 110 bc.

Water Source

None:  
Spring:  
Stream:  
Pool:  
Flush:  
Well:  
Other:  

Surface

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

No Known Excavation:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Geophysics

No Known Geophysics:  
Pits:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Finds

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

The earliest univallate enclosure had an in-turned entrance in the NE flanked by a guardroom to one side. In the early sixth century BC a box-constructed timber rampart with an entrance in the NE. In the mid-sixth century the enclosure was refortified by two banks and ditches enclosing the whole summit of the hill. An entrance lay in the NE. Finally a multivallate phase and a fourth bank aligned on an entrance in the E. A holloway extended downslope from the eastern entrance running through the outer rampart. At the western end of the hill the outer rampart turned inwards creating a second entrance.

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  In-turned:  In-turned entrance in univallate rampart
Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Recesses/Guard Chambers:  Univallate rampart
Entrance 2 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  Box ramparts
Entrance 3 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  Bivallate phase - inner rampart
Entrance 3 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  Bivallate phase - outer rampart
Entrance 4 (East):  Simple Gap:  Multivallate phase outer rampart
Entrance 5 (West):  In-turned:  Outer rampart

Enclosing Works

Univallate in the earliest phase in the late seventh century BC comprising a single bank approximately 3m wide possibly surmounted by a wooden palisade and enclosing 2.2h. The bank comprised a clay core with vertical flagstones supported by a drystone wall. In the early sixth century BC a box-constructed timber rampart employing vertical and horizontal timbers constructed on top of and partially following the alignment of the original bank, and formed from two rows of vertical slabs set in trenches separated by 3m with internal cellular walls filled with clay. The core was topped with flagstones that had stone lined-posts at 3m intervals. Externally there was a berm and flat-bottomed ditch 3m wide 2m deep and an external bank. In the mid-sixth century the enclosure was refortified by two further banks and ditches enclosing the whole summit of the hill (3.7ha) using the same construction method as the univallate fort which itself was further reinforced by additional walling at that time. The earlier bank and ditch was reinforced by a second rampart and postholes provide evidence for timbers for a shelter attached to the rampart. Finally a multivallate phase with C14 dates of 450 +/- 130 bc and 460 +/- 130 bc, enclosing 12ha. The earlier rampart was levelled and widened to cover the berm and half of the ditch and a new wall constructed. A V-shaped ditch and counterscarp surrounded the summit with a third dump rampart in the E and a fourth bank aligned on an entrance in the E. Vitrification of the rampart has occurred and TL dated to 431 +/- 180 bc. It is uncertain if this was deliberate or through the spontaneous combustion of the Coal Measures shale bank, aided by the structural timbers in the revetment.

Enclosed Area 1:  2.2ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  3.7ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  3.7ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  4

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  4
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  3

Current Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  
Unknown:  

Multi-period Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:  
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  

Surface Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Rubble:  
Wall-walk:  
Evidence of Timber:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
Other:  

Excavated Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Murus Duplex:  
Timber-framed:  
Timber-laced:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
No Known Excavation:  
Other:  

Gang Working

Gang Working:  ✗ 

Ditches

Ditches:  

Number of Ditches:  3

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Jecock, M. 1995. Castle Hill (Almondbury) Survey. RCHME: 04-JUL-1995

RCHME 1996. Castle Hill, Almondbury, West Yorkshire. Archaeological Survey Report (Part I)

Varley, W. J. 1948. The hillforts of the Welsh Marches. Archaeol J . Royal Archaeological Institute, 105, 146-7

Varley, W.J. 1973. Castle Hill, Almondbury. A brief guide to the excavations 1939-1972. Huddersfield 1973.

Varley, W. J, 1976. A summary of the excavations at Castle Hill, Almondbury, 1939-72 in D.W. Harding (ed), Hillforts: later prehistoric earthworks in Britain and Ireland, 119-31 and 402-07.

Webb A and Whittingham M, 1998. Castle Hill, Almondbury, West Yorkshire: Geophysical Survey Archaeological Services. WYAS 604.

Terms of Use

The online version of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland should be cited as:

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.