Blueprint aims to protect future of Iron Age hill fort
From an article by Joanne Ginley in Yorkshire Post Today:
A conservation blueprint to safeguard the future of Huddersfield's historic Castle Hill site, regarded as one of Yorkshire's most important early Iron Age hill forts, is set to be approved... continues...
People in Huddersfield are being asked whether a pub should remain on Castle Hill - there has been one for nearly two centuries, but a recent unapproved addition to the building there led to it being demolished... continues...
I grew up in sight of this old hillfort from my bedroom window in Crosland Moor.
The history of the site is that it was first occupied during the Bronze Age. It later became an Iron Age Hillfort when much of the earthworks were dug out. The site was suddenly abandoned after an explosion caused by internal combustion in one of the walls, about 400BC . Excavations found vitrification amongst the stonework in part of the walls (this could be the source of the local legend about it being a worm's lair).
The hill laid abandoned until after the Norman invasion (despite popular belief that the Romans occupied the hill. No evidence has been found to support this) when the De Lacy family built a castle and re-dug and extended the earthworks. It is reported that the castle was still fairly intact (although ruinous) in the 16th Century, but the site was used as a quarry until no stonework remains above ground.
The pub was built in 1812 and it is said that a tunnel was found that led down into the hill. Alas, no one was brave enough to explore it and it was sealed up when the pub was built on top of it. There are a number of local legends about tunnels leading out from the hill. The pub used to be good for lock-ins, and a few of us used to see in the solstice sunrise up there in the 1980's... but it's been taken over by a chain now and tries to attract the carvery crowd. You even get your beer on a ****ing serviette!!!
The tower was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Silver Jubilee.
Visited again 15th July 2003
A three stage enclosure, from the entrance at the North each area is protected by a ditch and gets a little bit higher. There are two embankments with a ditch, not to mention the naturally steep slopes up to the top. There are plenty of earthworks within the enclosures depicting the layout. There is a well, I asume it is ancient as it is more like a cavern downwards.
The hotel and pub is now closed and the place has become a haven for children and strong cider. Take a Biffa lorry if youhope to have any impact on the litter situation.
Visited many times as I live nearby. It is a long walk up steep hills from Huddersfield (as indeed is any walk of any distance from Huddersfield!). Dramatic earthworks are in evidence, you wouldn't want to be attacking it, that's for sure, and great views of the Peaks and the town are to be had. . The tower on top is a memorial erected in the tradition of Queen Victoria, it is not of any great age. You can drive and park right on the very top as there is a hotel. Take yer kite, take yer picnic and enjoy.
There is much history and folklore attached to this hill.
Queen Cartimandua of the Briganitines is said to have used the hill as her stronghold during the Brigantine Civil War against her ex-husband Venutius.
Cartimandua was a client ruler of the Romans. When she handed the fugitive Caratacus over to Rome, Venutius divorced her. She took his brothers and kinfolk captive, which led to civil war between 55 - 71 AD.
However, no archaeological evidence has been found of this and as the fort was abandoned around 400 BC, it seems unlikely.
The Norman castle built on the hill during the 12th century probably wiped away any archaeological traces, if Cartimandua's camp had been there.
The Roman name for the hill was Camulodunum (not to be confused with Colchester), which has lead to suspicions that Castle Hill was Arthur's Camelot. There certainly was a 5th century King of the Pennines called Arthius, but no proof that he inhabited Castle Hill has been found.
Other folklore is that tunnels lead from the hill, one to the Deadmanstone at Berry Brow, and another to Almondbury.
The Devil is said to have leaped to Castle Hill from Netherton Scar (where he left his footprint), some eight miles away. This may be a memory of the fire at the hillfort which lead to it's abandonment.
The hill is also said to be the lair of a dragon which guards a golden cradle.
In 2001 the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service did extensive geophysics of the site to see what evidence of archaeology remained in the interior of the hillfort, they comcluded:
"Much of the inner ward has been subject to varying degrees of landscaping or other forms of ground disturbance in the recent past. It seems unlikely that there any surviving archaeological remains in this part of the site. "