Monument details

HER Number:1007/2
Type of record:Archaeology
Name:Promontory fort on Helsby Hill 250m NW of Harmers Lake Farm


Helsby Hillfort is situated at the north end of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge immediately to the east of Helsby village. It is a bivallate hillfort bounded to the south and east by two parallel ramparts and an unusual type of inturned entrance approximately 10m wide. Like many of the hillforts along the Ridge, it was constructed to make best use of the steep cliffs to the north and west. The area below the subsidiary rock cliff between it and the main rock face forms part of the enclosed area and is marked off by banks at the southern and eastern ends. That at the southern end is much disturbed but was placed to allow free access to the entrance above whilst that at the eastern end runs directly up to the northern end of the main inner rampart. Only about one-half the length of the inner rampart is well preserved, the rest is ploughed out. The remainder of the inner rampart is fairly clear on the ground and before the war was the best preserved part, whilst the site of the outer rampart is barely distinguishable but shows clearly as a band of sand and rubble and there is evidence of modern breaks in the rampart line. The main enclosure is approximately 1.9ha.

Helsby is one of a small group of forts in central Cheshire and despite extensive plough damage on the surface there is a good potential for surviving below ground features across the hillfort.

In 2009 a new project to study the hillforts of Cheshire included a new excavation of Helsby over the locations of the excavations in 1955 and 1964. The excavations proved significant, revealing evidence of activity in the area prior to the construction of the hillfort comprising evidence of occupation or woodland clearance by the early Neolithic.

The excavations also revealed that there were three phases of hillfort construction at Helsby. The first stone rampart was constructed in the mid to late Bronze Age (1250-1050 cal BC) and consisted of a bank of sandstone blocks with a well-dressed outer face and an irregular inner face, which was built on a slight batter; it was approximately 3.5m wide. This was followed by a series of colloviul deposits against the internal face of the stone rampart that formed the second phase of activity. The final phase was the re-building of the rampart in the sub-Roman period, perhaps as late of 530 AD suggesting early Saxon re-occupation of the hillfort.


Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Inner, Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Outer, Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • BIVALLATE HILLFORT (Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • DITCH (Inner, Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • DITCH (Outer, Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • LAYER (Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Bronze Age to AD 6TH CENTURY - 1250 BC to 530 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Iron Age to BC 1ST CENTURY - 210 BC to 90 BC)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1013292: Promontory fort on Helsby Hill 250m north west of Harmers Lake Farm

Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West & Chester Council - Working in Partnership
Heritage Lottery Fund