The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Penshaw Hill



Penshaw Hill seems to be one of those fantastic hill forts completely missed by historians because of a later addition - A mock greek temple. Penshaw appears to be one of the few classic triple rampart Iron Age hill forts known to exist in the north. In terms of magic, it has a similar feel to Almondbury, with dates from the Bronze Age to the mid Iron Age. To add to its mystique, an apparent saucer barrow sits unnoticed at the foot of the hill, within the outer enclosure.
In 1844, before most antiquaries were interested in local pre-history worm hill, the regions greatest hill fort was 'converted' into a folly in the form of a Greek temple, to John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham (1792 - 1840). Governor - General of Canada, Grand Master of the Order of Freemasons, Member of Parliament, one time Lord Privy Seal, landowner and coal owner. Erected in 1844 by private subscription, its design by the Greens of Newcastle was executed by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland. The monument comprises Greek Doric columns (4 by 7) with entabulatures and end pediments but no roof. The columns stand upon a solid stone platform.
As a consequence, all the earthworks associated with the hill were assumed to be related to the monument and little attention was paid to the significance of this ancient site. Even the OS map of 1864, published twenty years after the erection of the monument, notes the earthworks simply as 'old quaries'

The area marked as Painshaw Hill Quarry has indeed been fully quarried out, however a crop mark to the West may still elude to the orginal outer bank of this enormous hill fort - one of the largest hill fort in the north yet totally unrecorded.
The photo's show the earthworks and an additional feature - a possible Barrow.
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Posted by BrigantesNation
12th June 2002ce
Edited 2nd February 2004ce

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