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Castle Hill, Almondbury
County: West Yorks
District: Kirklees
Parish: -
Monument Number: ( 2 )
E.H. Scheduled Monument desription for SAM 13297: Castle Hill is situated in Almondbury, south of Huddersfield, on a hilltop above the Holme Valley south of its comfluence with the River Colne. The monument includes the remains of a late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age univalate hillfort, a later Iron Age multivalate hillfort, a twelfth century motte and bailey castle and (as has been suggested) the site of a deserted medieval village, although this is now doubtful. Evidence for occupation and development of the site comes from a series of partial excavations carried out by W.J. Varley between 1939 and 1973. The earliest period of use was approximately four thousand years ago, as shown by the discovery of Late Neolithic flint tools and part of a polished stone axe. These finds predate the hillfort by c. 1500 years. The earthworks encircling the hill were constructed in stages over a period of c.200 years. Earliest enclosure (dated by radiocarbon and thermoluminescence) date to the late 7th century BC and consisted of an area of 2 hectares at the south-west end of the hill enclosed by a single bank measuring c.3m wide. This enclosure did not have an external ditch but the bank would have been surmounted by a wooden palisade. Early in the 6th century BC, the first enclosure was surrounded by a wide, flat-bottomed ditch and the upcast was used to construct a new bank that roughly followed the line of the old bank. In the mid-6th century this univalate hillfort was re-fortified and expanded to become a complex double-banked and ditched enclosure. New ramparts were built across the ends of the transverse ditch and were continued round the northeastern half of the hill, doubling the size of the enclosure. A new entrance was created at the northeast approach and the single bank and ditch of the original enclosure was reinforced. Approximately 100 years later this bivalate hillfort was rebuilt. The inner rampart was widened and raised, consisting almost entirely of two parallel drystone revetments separated by horizontal timber lacing infilled with shale and clay. An outwork was added to the northeast entrance and two new banks were built lower down the hill to entirely surround the complex. This multivalte enclosure was abandoned by the end of the 5th century BC, the vitrification of the inner rampart indicated that it was destroyed by fire at around that time. The site was not occupied again until the early 12th century AD when the earthworks were modified and reconstructed to create a motte and bailey castle. A broad ditch, 27m wide and 9m deep, was cut across the top of the hill, southwest of the transverse ditch belonging to the original univalate hillfort. In the first half of the 12th century, licence to fortify was granted by King Stephen and the timber palisade that would have originally surrounded the motte was replaced by a stone wall. The remains of timber buildings, and others of timber and stone, have been found on the motte. These were accompanied by a 27m deep well in which was found well-preserved organic material from the medieval period in addition to medieval pottery and metalwork. The northeastern part of the hill was the site of a small medieval settlement which survived for 200 years after the abandonment of the castle, being still occupied in the 15th century. The settlement comprised a row of dwellings on either side of a track that ran from the northeast entrance to the gap in the rampart of the univalate hillfort. After the desertion of the settlement, Castle Hill remained unoccupied until the 19th century when a tavern was built which was later used as a hotel and public house (now demolished, 2006). In the interim it was used as a beacon hill, with one fire being lit at the time of the Spanish Armada and another being prepared in the event of a Napoleonic invasion. In the past, Castle Hill has been held to be the site of Camelot, a Roman fort or the headquarters of the Brigantian Queen Cartimandua. These theories have been discounted due to a complete break in occupation between the 4th century BC and the Middle Ages. ................ In 2017 HDAS carried out an excavation in the area of the 'Annex' initial results of this excavation indicate a medieval boundary bank with two inner ditches. Medieval pottery sherds were recovered from the bank and from one of the ditches. Evidence also indicates that some of the interpreations made by Varley in this area may have been incorrect, see HER 15808. ..........................

Sources
Excavation, archival
RCHM Microfiche: West Yorkshire, Almondbury, 1938-1970, W.J.Varley.
Doc.ref.
W Yorks SMR.
Desc.text
Gilks and Rumsby, Kirklees Met Museums.
AP
WY 27/10A-33A; 166/10; 239/14-19; 257/8: CUC AWE 52,53.
Publication
Varley, W.J., 1976. in Harding ed. 'Hillforts' pp. 119-31.
Map
Almondbury Tithe Award (1848) map, field nos. 2223, 2284, 2284a, 2298-10.
Notebook
Varley, W.J., 1997. ' Excavations carried out 1939-72 at Castle Hill, Almondbury'
Desc.text
WYAS, 1997. 2 files of draft text, notes and illustrations for report on Castle Hill Almondbury'
Publication
CBA, 1970. Group 4 Newsletter, 1970 p4
Desc.text
Redfern, Neil EH FMW 03/05/2002, Site visit report.
Photograph
Redfern, Neil EH FMW 02/05/2002, Site visit photographs.
Photograph
Redfern, Neil EH FMW 07/10/2002, Site visit photograph.
Desc.text
English Heritage. 1992. Scheduling Notification for SAM 13297.
Compact disk
Atkins Heritage, 2006. 'Conservation Management Plan Castle Hill'
Compact disk
Castle Hill Excavations 1969-1970 Varleys Illustrations Kirklees Museum Copyright
Desc.text
File containing various secondary sources for Castle Hill, Almondbury.
Report
ASWYAS, 1998. 'Castle Hill, Almondbury, Geophysical survey'
Report
ASWYAS, 1998. 'Castle Hill Hotel, Almondbury Archaeological evaluation'
Report
RCHME, 1996. 'Castle Hill, Almondbury' Archaeological survey report (parts I and II) and survey archive.
Desc.text
AQP. 1995. 'Castle Hill: Visitor and Information Centre'. Proposals.
Catalogue
WYAS, 1997. 'Documentary archive catalogue 1938-76, for excavations carried out 1939-72 by W J Varley at Castle Hill, Almondbury.
Desc.text
RCHME, 1994. 'Castle Hill, Almondbury: site archive evaluation'
AP
English Heritage. 11/01/1995. NMR 15194/06 & 09.
Report
Headland Design Associates, 1999. 'Castle Hill Feasibility Study: final report'
Correspondence
DCMS. 2001-2007. Various correspondence re proposed works at Castle Hill.
Publication
Avery, M., 1993. 'Castle Hill, Almondbury', in Hillfort Defences of Southern Britain, vol. II appendix A.
Manuscript
Stockdale, D., 2003. 'Castle Hill' A-level dissertation
Desc.text
Robinson, A. 19/11/2004. 'Developer will scrap hotel on historic site'. Article in the Yorkshire Post.
Guide book/pamphlet
Community History Service. No date. 'Focus on Castle Hill'.
Desc.text
Various notes and secondary sources re the publication of recent work at Castle Hill, Almondbury, compiled in 1996.
Desc.text
Moir, D., 2005. Site meeting report.
Correspondence
Various correspondence re Castle Hill, 2000-2005.
Publication
Gilks, J.A., 1992. 'Early Iron Age Pottery from Castle Hill' in YAJ vol 64 p17-23
Publication
Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 1971. Vol 43, Archaeological Register 1970 p191