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Historic England Research Records

Maiden Castle

Hob Uid: 24516
Location :
County Durham
County Durham
Durham
Grid Ref : NZ2830041700
Summary : Earthwork remains of an Iron Age promontory fort, with possible later Medieval occupation.
More information : NZ 283 417. Maiden Castle (NAT) Promontory Fort (NR). (1)

Maiden Castle classified as an Iron Age promontory fort, covering 2
acres, and protected on all but the west side, by steep natural
slopes. The west rampart is 18 ft wide and 7 ft high, with an
external ditch, still 4 ft deep, and the remains of a slight inner
bank at the south end. The original entrance may have been at the
north end of this side, where there is a break in the outer ditch
(2). Limited excavation in 1946 on the west rampart revealed three
phases of construction:

1. The original clay rampart was revetted with cobbles, externally
and at the top where a wooden palisade was also provided.

2. The inside of the rampart was cut away and a stone revetting wall
built; at least one of the stones bearing a Medieval mason's mark.

3. Wooden stakes were added to the retaining wall for strengthening.
When the rampart was finally abandoned these stakes were burnt.
`Clearly the last two of the three phases .... must belong to the
Middle Ages; it is possible, though not likely, that the original
construction was prehistoric'. The only finds came from the topsoil;
the earliest being 15th or 16th century pottery fragments. The
nearest parallels to this site are the defended (rather than
fortified) farm or manor sites of Medieval date, in Roxburghshire
(See Lintalee - NT 61 NW 12). (3)

The interior of the earthwork is entirely wooded with no surface
indications of occupation. Surveyed. (4)

Listed by Challis and Harding as a `typical promontory site' (Iron Age). (5)

As described above. There can be little doubt that this was
originally an Iron Age Fort and with possibly later Medieval
occupation as suggested by Authority 3. Published Survey (1:1250)
Revised. (6)

Existing survey revised by RCHME during a project on scheduled
monuments in County Durham.

Maiden Castle occupies a fine defensive position on a promontory
about 30 m above the flood-plain of the River Wear, protected on all
sides except the west by steep natural slopes, now wooded. There is a
level approach to the promontory from the west, and here a bank and
outer ditch have been constructed thereby enclosing a wedge-shaped
area 145 m east-west by 50 m transveresly at the east end and 120 m
at the west (1.23 hectares). The whole of the interior has been
planted with mixed conifers and deciduous trees; deep ploughing
associated with this has cut across the west bank reducing it to an
outward facing scarp, up to 3 m high, with only minimal traces of a
counter scarp towards the south end. The ditch is 2 m maximum depth.
The position of the entrance is probably marked by a gap in the ditch
towards its north end; an alternative is at the extreme south end of
the west defences, but here the landscaped path has confused the
work.
The portrayal of the site by Authority 6 is accurate. The low banks
bordering the landscaped path circumventing the interior are
associated with the path. (7)

NZ 2829 4169. Maiden Castle promontory fort. Scheduled RSM No 25011.
(8)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1967
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Thomas, N, 1960. Guide to Prehistoric England (111)
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Trans Durham and Northum Archaeol Architec Soc 11 1958-65 124-27 (M G Jarrett)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 EG 04-OCT-54
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Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : BAR 20 pt2 Later Prehist from Trent-Tyne 1975, 46 (A J Challis & D W Harding)
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 ISS 08-MAY-80
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Keith Blood/02-AUG-1991/RCHME: Durham SAMs Project
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Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage Scheduling Amendment 1/7/94
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Source : Maiden Castle, Durham/ink survey
Source details :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Promontory Fort
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DU 10
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 25011
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NZ 24 SE 38
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON NZ 24 SE 38
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1954-10-04
End Date : 1954-10-04
Associated Activities : MAIDEN CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1956-01-01
End Date : 1956-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON NZ 24 SE 38
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1980-05-08
End Date : 1980-05-08
Associated Activities : RCHME: DURHAM SAMS PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1991-06-01
End Date : 1991-12-01
Associated Activities : MAIDEN CASTLE FLOODBANK
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31