Enclosure: OS Grid Reference – SE 173 216
Along the Brighouse to Mirfield A644 road, a half-mile east of M62’s junction 25 on Wakefield Road, note the woodland on your left-hand side, above the walling. Although on allegedly private land, you can approach by hopping over the wall by the main road into the woods. Wander up the slope until it levels out and, just at the edge of the tree-line, past the brilliant overgrown folly amidst a mass of rhododendrons, you’ll see the denuded edges of this earthwork. Though you might need a bitta patience seeking it out…
Archaeology & History
The remains of this low earthwork is found on the private land of Kirklees Hall and appointment is supposed to be made to explore, both this and the more famous Robin Hood’s Grave, a few hundred yards away. But if you can’t be bothered with that and find this little-known earthwork, you’ll see that it’s roughly squared in shape, though pretty overgrown. In Bernard Barnes’ survey (1982) he described it as a “square or five sided enclosure, 2-3 acres in size, with bank and external ditch”, wondering whether it was used to enclosure cattle and stretching its possible origin between the Iron Age to the medieval.
Although the classical Roman archaeologist Ian Richmond (1925) believed the site to be from that period, the archaeologist J.J. Keighley thought that the site was “more likely to be Iron Age than Roman.” He wrote:
“The earthwork in Kirklees Park is a square or five-sided enclosure with bank and external ditch… The site lies on Richmond’s trans-Pennine route. According to Armitage and Montgomerie, the earthwork is 0.5 hectares in area, but it is actually nearer 0.8 to 1.2 hectares. They compare its construction with the fort at Wincobank (South Yorkshire), stating that the bank on the counterscarp when excavated, revealed “a very rudely composed wall of undressed dry stone.”
Earlier local writers such as John Watson (1775) — whose early sketch of the site is reproduced above — and others also opted for the Roman date. But, unless you’re a bit of an earthwork fanatic, this site may not be too much your cuppa tea. If you are gonna check this out though, make sure you check out Robin Hood’s old tomb in the trees not far away. Very odd.
- Barnes, Bernard, Man and the Changing Landscape, Merseyside County Council & University of Liverpool 1982.
- Keighley, J.J., “The Prehistoric Period,” in West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to AD 1500 (WYMCC: Wakefield 1981).
- Richmond, I.A., Huddersfield in Roman Times, Tolson Memorial Museum: Huddersfield 1925.
- Watson, John, The History and Antiquities of Halifax, J. Lowndes: London 1775.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian