Monument details

HER Number:970/1
Type of record:Archaeology
Name:Woodhouse Hillfort 500m W of Mickledale


Woodhouse Hillfort is situated at the north end of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge to the east of Helsby village. It is a univallate hillfort comprising a single rampart encompassing an interior space some 1.52ha in extent. Like many of the hillforts along the Ridge, it was constructed to make best use of the steep cliffs of the Ridge to the south and west although there are traces of a bank to reinforce its defensive position that is slightly set back from the cliff edge to the west. The rampart on the north and east is well preserved and stands to a height of 0.5m – 2m but appears to be frequently cut by gaps. There is no visible trace of an external ditch.

Woodhouse hillfort was added as a Scheduled Monument in 1929. It is one of a group of small hillforts along the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge and is relatively well preserved despite extensive woodland and bracken coverage and numerous footpaths. There is a strong potential for the interior to contain well preserved evidence of prehistoric settlement.

In 2009 a new project to study the hillforts of Cheshire included a new excavation of Woodhouse Hill. Seven trenches were excavated that included a re-investigation of a trench opened in 1949. The other trenches were located to investigate the possible ditch and the eastern rampart, a possible man-made mound inside the hillfort and a former boundary to the north. The re-investigation of the 1949 trench confirmed that the rampart was of box-type construction with an outer stone face and a rubble core and with two phases of construction.

The excavations also provided the first dating evidence for the hillfort with samples taken from two phases of rampart construction. Using OSL dating, the samples suggest the earthworks at Woodhouse belong to the early half of the first millennium BC and is perhaps Bronze Age. The later phase of construction belongs to the latter half of the first millennium BC and is Iron Age. The excavations also revealed that the fragmented nature of the eastern rampart is a modern alteration with the discovery of 19th and 20th century finds from the openings suggesting that some are modern field boundaries while some relate to a period of use as a military training site


Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Bronze Age to AD 4TH CENTURY - 1311 BC to 359 AD)
  • DITCH (Bronze Age to AD 4TH CENTURY - 1311 BC to 359 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Bronze Age to AD 4TH CENTURY - 1311 BC to 359 AD)
  • UNIVALLATE HILLFORT (Bronze Age to AD 4TH CENTURY - 1311 BC to 359 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1013297: Hillfort on Woodhouse Hill 500m west of Mickledale

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