OS Grid ref:-SJ 498 529
Maiden castle Hillfort dates from the Iron Age around 800BC - 43AD, and stands at the edge of a cliff at 212 metres, at a spectacular location on the highest section of the southern end of the Cheshire sandstone ridge.
Maiden Castle has no artificial defences on its northern and western sides because of the naturally steep slope of the hill, but there are two artificial banks, 35 ft (11 m) apart. The banks are similar in dimension, both are 40 ft (12 m) wide, and because the ground they are on slopes, the exterior side of each bank is higher than the side on the inside of the fort; they are 5 ft (1.5 m) high on the inside of the fort and 7 ft (2.1 m) on the exterior face. The outer edge is defended by a double rampart and the structure has a single entrance. Archaeological investigation at the site revealed that the inner rampart is supported by dry stone walling with a core of sand and timber strapping. The outer rampart was originally a timber palisade later replaced by an earth bank that was strengthened with stone walling.
We currently know very little about Maiden Castle, although it is belived to date from the Iron Age, the inner rampart produced a radio carbon date of 470 B.C. The visible earthwork encloses an area of about 0.7 hectares. An in-turned bank at the northern end of the fort, adjacent to the cliff edge, represents the only confirmed entrance. The site is presently managed by the National Trust.
The view from Maiden Castle
Maiden Castle was excavated between 1932 and 1935 by W. J. Varley, who also undertook excavations at Eddisbury hill fort, as part of his investigation into the origin of Cheshire's hill forts. Further excavations were undertaken in 1980–1981. Few artefacts have been recovered from the site, they include a piece of Iron Age pottery.
A walk to Maiden Castle from Bickerton
Length- 2.5 miles
Duration- 1 hour
*Commencing from the car park at the base of Bickerton Hill (SJ502530), leave by the gate and proceed up the hill. On reaching a point where the footpath forks, take the right fork until arriving at a signpost. Turn left heading for Larkton Hill.
* Follow the Sandstone Trail markers, ignoring branching footpaths until arriving at Maiden Castle.
*Retrace your steps to return to the car park.