Castle Folds from the air. Courtesy of Hamish Fenton
The monument is an unusual example in Cumbria of a heavily defended Romano-British stone hut circle settlement. Unlike many such settlements which were enclosed or ‘defended’ in such a way as to protect both inhabitants and stock from casual marauders, Castle Folds appears, by the very nature of its inaccessible location and strongly defended stone enclosure wall, to have been constructed in response to a threat of much greater proportions.
The site is located on a flat-topped limestone knoll, surrounded by large areas of deeply fissured limestone pavement. There is an irregular enclosure that does not quite cover the entire top of the knoll. The enclosure wall was constructed of limestone rubble, to a width of 2.4m and a height of 4m including the parapet. However, the wall has now tumbled and survives to a maximum height of 1m in places. There is a 5m wide entrance in the south side which is approached from the south by an artificially constructed passageway through the surrounding fractured limestone. What is also interesting, is that a study of the enclosure wall reveals that virtually all of the limestone blocks facing the outside of the wall have been torn out, suggesting the defences were deliberately destroyed rather than being subjected to casual stone robbing.
There are the remains of at least 12 circular or stone-built huts, situated against the enclosure wall. These hut circles range from 5.5 and 11.5m in diameter. The site has been reused. A shieling measuring 22 by 9m externally, and which was possibly two-celled, is situated against the south wall. These structures tend to date from the 7th to 17th century.
Historic England, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1011141