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Historic England Research Records

Woodhouse Hill

Hob Uid: 71527
Location :
Cheshire West And Chester
Cheshire West And Chester
Frodsham
Grid Ref : SJ5107075730
Summary : Iron Age promontory fort, possibly unfinished, surviving as an earthwork.
More information : SJ 510 757 Fort (NR) (1)

Section of rampart at 'A' (SJ 5110 7570) and hut(?) excavated June
1949 by T G E Powell and G Webster. Rampart banked and faced with
stone rubble core- no sign of timbers. 12ft total width. No
occupation finds. (2)

The Iron Age hillfort of Woodhouses takes advantage of natural
features on its western and southern sides but appears originally to
have had a continuous encircling rampart which is best preserved
on the northern and eastern sides where it has a maximum height of
about 5ft above the interior and is about 35ft wide. There is no
outer ditch. The enclosed area is about 3 3/4 acres. On the
eastern side the bank exists now as a series of short sections of
differing heights and widths, the northern half looking considerably
larger than the southern. This may be due to collapse aided by
weathering and robbing but it may be incomplete.

There are only slight traces of artificial defences on the western
and southern sides. The western rampart is marked by a series of
scarps which are presumably all that remains of the original bank.
Flanking the western side and between 50 and 100ft from it is a low
sandstone cliff below which the ground falls steeply. This may
explain the fragmentary nature of the remains on this side but it
may be due to the fact that they were never finished. There is no
trace of a western extension of the northern rampart to the cliff
edge as might have been expected. The south western side is
defended by steep natural slopes. The eastern rampart, as it
approaches the southern angle, begins to turn in a westerly
direction and even where it ceases to be a bank there is a clear scarp for 60 or 70ft. Beyond this along the remainder of the southern flank there is the suggestion of a scarp but it requires excavation to to prove that it represents the remains of a rampart.

The footpath which passes up the eastern slope passes through a
gap in the bank where, in 1951, and excavation showed that the
rampart was originally of the box type revetted back and front
with drystone walling. It was 12ft thick and in its original state
probably 8 to 10ft high.

There is no clear indication of an entrance but from a tactical
point of view it would have been on the western side. (3)

Published survey (25") revised. (4)

An Iron Age fort enclosing an area 180.0m by 80.0m which has the
appearance, as suggested by Johnston, (3) of being unfinished.

Situated on the end of a ridge set back from a line of precipitous
crags with steep slopes forming the only defence on the south
side and a single straight rampart built along the less steep
slope on the east side. This rampart varies considerably in height
along its length. At its southern end it is 1.0m high from the
interior and 1.6m high externally becoming stronger towards the
northern end where it is 1.5m and 2.7m high. There is no
topographical reason for this since the slopes are at least as
steep towards the northern end.

Another factor suggesting that the fort is unfinished is the weakness
of the defences on the north and west sides which form the easiest
approach. The west side is defined by a mainly natural scarp and no
attempt has been made to incorporate the cliffs on the west into
the defences.

No constructed entrance could be identified. The apparent inturning
at the north-east corner is the point where a natural scarp running
SW to NE joins the scarp slope 0.9m high, which forms the defence
on the north side.

A terraced path which approaches the break in the rampart at SJ
5110 7570 is presumably modern since the excavations of 1949 (and
?1951 see (3)) apparently did not disclose an entrance at this
point.

Published survey (1:2500) correct. (5)

Listed by Challis and Harding as a four acre promontory site with
a stone revetted box rampart 12ft wide(Iron Age). (6)

SJ 510 757. Woodhouse Hill. Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 1.5ha. (7)

SJ 5107 7573. Hillfort on Woodhouse Hill 500m W of Mickledale.
Scheduled RSM No 25694. (8)

This site was the subject of archaeological investigation between 2009 and 2012, the results of which are presented in 'Hillforts of the Cheshire Ridge' Garner et al. (2016). (9)

The site was mapped from lidar imagery as part of the 'Cheshire Aerial Investigation and Mapping Project: the Chester environs' in 2019. An Iron Age rampart is visible as fragmentary earthworks on lidar imagery in the south of the parish of Frodsham. Elements appear to be extant on the latest 2016 vertical photography. (10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1970
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Source Number : 2
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Corr 6" (G Webster 1949)
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : T Lancs and Ches AS 72 1962 17-19 plan (J Forde-Johnston)
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JHW 05-NOV-62
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 DJC 18-FEB-76
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : BAR 20 pt2 Later Prehist from Trent-Tyne 1975, 45 (A J Challis & D W Harding)
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 7
Source : British Hillforts: an index
Source details :
Page(s) : 155
Figs. :
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Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage Scheduling Amendment 20/7/95
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Source Number : 9
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Garner et al. (2016) 'Hillforts of the Cheshire Ridge' <> [02-MAY-2019]
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 10
Source : Light detection and ranging (lidar) airborne survey
Source details : LIDAR Environment Agency FIRST RETURN 10-MAY-2017
Page(s) :
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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 : Univallate Hillfort, 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 : CH 12
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 25694
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cheshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 970/1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 57 NW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : WOODHOUSES
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1949-01-01
End Date : 1949-12-31
Associated Activities : WOODHOUSES
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1951-01-01
End Date : 1951-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 57 NW 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1962-11-05
End Date : 1962-11-05
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 57 NW 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-02-18
End Date : 1976-02-18
Associated Activities : WOODHOUSE HILLFORT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31