Castle Folds

Has been described as a Rejected Uncertain

There are uncertain remains

NameCastle Folds
Alternative NamesCastlesteads
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishAsby

Possible medieval defensive site' (Jackson 1990)

Castle Folds, settlement (1,330 ft. above O.D.) on Great Asby Scar, 3 m. S.W. of the church, occupies the summit of a small flat-topped knoll. Much of the top is covered with bare limestone outcrop. The sides of the knoll itself are formed of outcrop which, while being slight on the E. and S., becomes largely precipitous on the W. and N., though of no great height. The entire knoll (Plate 1) is surrounded for some distance by fractured limestone outcrop which can only be traversed on foot and with considerable difficulty. The work consists of the ruins of an irregular enclosure, nearly 1ΒΌ acres in area, which does not quite cover the entire top of the knoll. The walls are now merely tumbled debris of stones; but in places a few orthostats are still standing, from which the walls would appear to have been about 8 ft. thick. Built against the enclosure-wall internally are traces of a number of roughly circular and oval huts, while one on the S. side about 20 yards by 6 yards is roughly rectangular in form with rounded angles. There is a gap in the S. wall which doubtless denotes the entrance, and opposite this gap externally is a very narrow passage-way through the fractured limestone; this, being the only unimpeded approach and fairly straight, is perhaps artificial.

About 110 yards N.W. of the settlement is a mound (marked Tumulus on the O.S.) about 102 ft. long by 57 ft. across its widest part and 13 ft. high. It appears to be composed of stone fragments and large limestone blocks similar to the surrounding outcrops, and may thus be a natural formation. The long axis lies N. and S. (RCHME 1936)

The monument is an unusual example in Cumbria of a heavily defended Romano-British stone hut circle settlement

Unlike many Romano-British 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. It survives well, preserves considerable detail of the layout of the site, will facilitate further study of Romano-British settlement patterns in the area and will contain further evidence of the defensive nature of the site. Additionally, the monument is a rare example of a juxtaposed Romano-British settlement and medieval shieling. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

High on the Fells and clearly never a high status site of any date and medieval occupation was that of a medieval shieling. Can not reasonable be called a medieval defensive site.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY649093
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  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 96
  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 19-20 no. 22 plan [online transcription >]


  • Higham, N.J. and Jones, G.D.B., 1975, 'Frontiers, Forts and Farmers' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 132 p. 51
  • Richmond, I.A., 1933, 'Castle Folds by Great Asby' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 33 p. 233-7 online copy