Helsby Heritage

The hillfort defences consist of a single bank with an outer scarp which utilises the natural defences of the northern end of the Sandstone Ridge, overlooking the Mersey Estuary. Steep cliff-edges form the northern and western defences. The upstanding earthworks survive to their greatest extent in the east, in the improved pasture fields, and on the south western side where the rampart is covered in bracken and scrub. Limited archaeological excavations were carried out on the ramparts in 1955 and 1963-4. The eastern rampart and interior were ploughed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and dug into to construct a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post.

The main ongoing erosion threat to the monument is the potential for further ploughing and agricultural improvements on the eastern portion of the hillfort, which is currently improved pasture. Unrestricted visitor access to the National Trust owned portions of the site are also a major problem, with visitor erosion being responsible for the exposure of the underlying sandstone bedrock in places. Erosion is also particularly acute where trees and scrub are growing upon the northern rampart extension and the edges of the western portion of the hillfort. Extensive bracken growth occurs throughout the areas of tree growth, and is particularly extensive on the western ramparts, whilst gorse has started to encroach onto the monument in specific areas.

Proactive land management is at present occurring on the portion of the hillfort landholding owned and managed by the National Trust, as part of systematic land management practices and prescriptions that are formalised within a current Historic Environment Management Plan. The hillfort was designated at high risk during an earlier Monuments at Risk survey because of the tree and bracken growth on the monument and associated visitor erosion. The Monuments at Risk survey conducted during the present Scheme agreed with this assessment and designation.