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Cronk Sumark Hillfort

Period: Iron Age

NGR Easting: 239200

NGR Northing: 494100

Description: Hillfort. Cronk Sumark sits near the entrance to Sulby Glen. The hill rises abruptly from the lowlands and commands extensive views. The sides of the hill to the north and west are nearly precipitous and artificial defences are therefore focussed on the south and east slopes.

The main defences are two banks which start at the NE corner of the hill and encircle its east and south sides. The inner bank creates a broad terrace below the easterly of the two summits of the hill. The outer bank, of rather smaller scale, is almost concentric with the inner bank. A former track leading from Grangee farm (at the foot of the hill to the east) to the 19th century quarry below the westerly summit may overlie an outermost bank. The trackway may mask an earlier entranceway leading up from the SSW.

The top of the hill is separated into two summits. The westerly hilltop has been truncated by quarrying, and is not clear whether any archaeological features existed on its now craggy summit.

The eastern summit is more spacious, and is surrounded by a substantial rampart which rises in places to 2m in height and encloses a level area about 25 by 20m across. A slight mound near the north-eastern corner may represent the remains of a defensible entrance. The rampart is constructed from earth and stone, several samples of which appear to have been burned; it is not clear if this was a deliberate act of construction or destruction.

Between the summits, the bedrock has been excavated to form three ditches running from north to south. Two of these are discontinuous and are spanned by a causeway of bedrock, but the third, adjacent to the westerly summit, is deeper and has no such interruption. It is possible that this ditch, protecting the westerly summit, was spanned by a timber structure which has left no obvious remains.

Local tradition has it that the western summit was used as a place of execution, and that during the later medieval period the hill served as the meeting place for a church court. It has also been suggested that the name, rather than indicating ‘Primrose Hill’, should instead be translated from the Manx as ‘hill of refuge’.

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Site & Monument Type: hillfort

Category: National Monuments Record: Statutory Ancient Monuments

Site ID number: 0450.00

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