The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Gilbeber Hill Earthwork, Near Greenberfield, Lancashire

Gilbeber Hill, near Greenberfield, viewed from the south.

Gilbeber Hill Earthwork near Greenberfield, Lancashire.

OS Grid Reference: SD 87627 48284. About halfway between Greenberfield and Bracewell, in Lancashire, is Gilbeber Hill (sometimes spelt as Gilleber), and an almost square-shaped earthwork consisting of a raised outer bank and, near the centre,   a small raised platform with a little stone. The rough, grassy earth-work has been considered to be a Roman camp, a Medieval enclo-sure, or perhaps a Civil War encampment from the 17th century! Bracewell was originally part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The Roman road linking Ilkley in the east with Ribchester in the west runs close to Gilbeber Hill, the course of which is still to be found at Brogden Lane to the southwest. From the footpath (at east-side of Sewarage works) on Greenberfield Lane: head across the field to a second wooden gate, then continue on this footpath to the foot-bridge over Stocks Beck. Gilbeber Hill is the low, grassy hill on your left; the footpath runs around the base of the hill towards a third gate and then onto Gisburn Road. A similar earthwork is to be found on Hawber Hill ½ a mile to the northwest.

Gilbeber Hill Earthwork near Greenberfield. The Western side.

Gilbeber Hill Earthwork. The small raised feature at the SW side.

The rectangular-shaped earthwork atop Gilbeber Hill (drumlin) is a raised, grassy area with a visible bank around its edges which measures between 1-2 feet in height, and there are slight traces of an outer ditch. Nearer the centre at the W side is a small, raised square feature (platform) with a little stone standing upon it, but whether this ‘white stone’ was part of the earthwork structure is not known; it may have come from somewhere close by. At the E side is what might be an entrance? The earthwork is roughly 24m x 26m and 632-756 square yards with a parameter length of 101m covering 0.156 acres of the flat hilltop site. But was this a temporary camp from the late Roman period, or perhaps a Romano-British farmstead (similar to Bomber Camp near Coal Pit Lane)? or was it a medieval settlement/enclosure? or could it have been a Civil War encampment from the 1640s? – this we don’t know with any certainty. There don’t appear, however, to have been any Civil War camps in this part of west Craven, and so that theory must be dismissed.

John & Phillip Dixon (1990) say of the earthworks: “Near the settlement of Stock are two hill-top earthworks; one is sited above Stock upon Hawber Hill, the other is sited upon Gilbeber Hill, roughly 30 yards square and 27 yards square respectively. The Gilbeber earthwork displays signs of an outer ditch, and…….commands a view of the surrounding area that is bisected by the Roman road. There are over a dozen such hill enclosure sites in the western central Pennine area and none, other than the Bomber Camp/Primrose Hill sites, have been subject to archaeological study. At this stage it may be reasonable to view the Hawber and Gilbeber site as having their possible origins in the late Roman period. And, in the case of Hawber, may be related to some of the earthwork features around Stock Green that we consider may be a Romano-British settlement similar to that of Bomber Camp.”

John Dixon goes on to add: “Whitaker in his “History of Craven”, states that “tradition holds that they (the Hawber and Gilbeber earthworks) were constructed by the Royalist forces of Prince Rupert during their march through Craven in 1644. They consist of small square encampments and are strengthened by long rectilinear fosses, which descend along the slope of the hills on each side to the plane beneath.”

The PastScape / Historic England Monument No. is: 45403.

Sources / References and related websites:-

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia Volume One: Walks in Craven Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=45403

https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?a=0&hob_id=45398

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019