The Helm, Oxenholme

The Helm, Oxenholme, Kendal, Cumbria: Archaeological Landscape Survey

As part of a Higher Level Stewardship agreement with English Nature Greenlane Archaeology was commissioned by Friends of the Lake District to carry out an archaeological survey of an area of land at the Helm, Oxenholme, Kendal, Cumbria. This comprised a Level 1 walkover survey and a Level 2 survey of the remains of the Castlesteads hillfort, a Scheduled Monument in divided ownership with the adjacent landowner.

The investigation comprised an initial programme of desk-based assessment, looking at early maps, primary and secondary sources, particularly relating to previous investigations into Castlesteads, and aerial photographs, as well as information held in the Historic Environment Record, covering a larger area around the site (the ‘study area’). This revealed a small number of sites of archaeological interest within the study area, including quarries, a pin fold and areas of field systems, as well as the earthworks comprising the Castlesteads hillfort, and a possible cairnfield.

The Level 1 survey revealed a total of 21 sites of archaeological interest within the survey area. Field systems visible in the aerial photographs could not be identified on the ground, but former field boundaries relating to them could. Other sites included a number of additional small quarries, features connected to water management, and an extant hog hole and gate. The Level 2 survey recorded the hillfort and enabled a basic phasing of the monument to be established.

Although a small monument for its type, Castlesteads seems to show evidence for various phases of development; initial construction comprising the large outer ramparts, perhaps preceded by a less substantial timber palisade as has been discovered in excavated examples, with smaller banks and hut circles within these representing later additions, and followed only by relatively modern alterations and erosion.

The full report is available on the Archaeology Data Service website: