Beeston heritage

The hillfort at Beeston Castle has been drastically modified by later occupation on the site and the imposition of the medieval castle upon the hilltop.

The hillfort is thought to have been a promontory fort, with defences constructed only at the more easily approached eastern end, leaving the naturally precipitous scarp slopes around the rest of the perimeter of the hillside as a natural defensive barrier.

Numerous phases of the eastern rampart and ditch were excavated at the main gateway into the castle, while excavations at the centre of the outer ward revealed over one hundred postholes, many of which appear to have been associated with Late Bronze Age and Iron Age activity.

Excavations on the western flank of the hillside, outside the hillfort produced evidence of prehistoric activity in the form of shards of Cheshire VCP (Very Coarse Pottery), while excavations at the lower green also encountered Romano-British building materials and pottery.

The main ongoing erosion threat to the monument is the wooded nature of the site, and the other associated vegetation. The erosion is particularly acute where trees are growing upon and adjacent to the area of the eastern ramparts, and also within the interior of the hillfort in the outer ward of the castle.

Extensive bracken growth occurs throughout the area of the inner ward, eastern rampart, and eastern external hill slopes. Similarly, a small patch of gorse has started to encroach onto the monument immediately to the south of the dry moat, on the edge of the outer ward.

Beeston Castle is an extremely popular English Heritage property and, as such, visitor erosion is a major problem, particularly within the inner ward. Rabbit and badger burrowing is also a problem in this area.

Proactive land management is at present occurring on the hillfort monument, as the property is under the guardianship of English Heritage. The hillfort was designated at medium risk during an earlier Monuments at Risk survey because of the tree and bracken growth on the monument.

The survey conducted during the present Scheme agreed with this assessment and designation. This monument is the only one of the six hillforts of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge under present investigation not to be rated as being under high risk of erosion.