The location of Maiden Castle could not have been strickly for its defensive position, as can be seen fron the photo, its position made it vulnerable on one side and also meant the occupants had limited views of the surrounding area. If anything it hides amongst the hills.
This poor defensive positioning is an aspect shared by several other Brigantian earthworks of presumed defensive capacity, including Maiden Castle (Reeth), Stanwick (North Yorkshire), Carl Wark (Derbyshire), Scoles Coppice (South Yorks), Castle Steads (North Yorkshire) and quite a few others. This has caused a fair degree of confusion in defining what their purpose actually was. There seem to be several schools of thought on the subject, each may be correct for particular earthworks. These vary from seeing these as tactical camps not intended to be held in difficult circumstances, to being seen more as symbolic or even religious in purpose.
"Maiden Castle is a defended settlement (probably home to a family group) of the 1st millennium BC. It would have been located within or near to arable fields. The enclosure is circular, has a diameter of about 65 metre and is defenced by an inner rampart, ditch and counterscarp bank. The ditchs and the banks, which may have been topped by wooden fences, would have been much more substantial to provide protection against attackers.
A few very low earthwork features are visible in the interior of the enclosure including two circular platforms of about eight meters diameter which may indicate the positions of circular huts, These are likely to have been of timber construction, with wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs." From a sign by the earthwork.
Marjorie Rowling's book 'The Folklore of the Lake District' (1976) includes a story by the Reverend Isaac Todd (born in Wreay in 1797). He gives 'Caerthannoc' as an alternative name for Maiden Castle, and explains that a tower was built there by a king to safeguard his daughter. He was a particularly protective parent because a wicked fairy had foretold (or promised?) the poor girl's death by drowning one day. The king thought he'd cracked it as she'd grown up safe inside the tower, well away from Ullswater - but of course he hadn't counted on the fact that teenage girls will always find a way to sneak out and see their boyfriends. One night she was climbing out of her window intending to elope with the young man once and for all - but she fell in an ungainly fashion upside down into a water butt, and drowned, just as the fairy had predicted. You can't go cheating fate.