What emerges from this review of research on the later prehistoric period in North West England, from the published material, grey literature, and the conversations held at the project workshops, is that community, developer-funded, and research fieldwork on this period has continued to grow since 2006. New discoveries of objects and settlements, and the resultant theoretical frameworks are further developing our understanding of the period allowing us to better place North West England in a national context whilst identifying regional and sub-regional trends. While the volume of material and level of research remains modest compared to other periods in the region, our understanding has, nevertheless, changed significantly since 2006.
Of note is a growing difference between the level of ceramic and coin finds south and north of the River Ribble as recovered from excavations and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, with the southern part of the region producing noticeably more material. Cheshire remains the only part of the North West where Iron Age coins are found. Four-post structures, well-known in other parts of Britain have now been identified on several settlement sites south of the River Ribble, though they remain rare. The number of lowland rural settlements, and their size and type continue to grow, whilst further investigation of hilltop enclosures continues demonstrate the late Bronze Age origins for many of the region’s hillfort sites. However, survey work now suggests that the Warton Cragg hilltop site, north of Lancaster, is not Iron Age but from an earlier period. There is also some evidence across the region to show that burnt mounds, though rare, may be been re-used during the later prehistoric.
The breadth and context of this material remains poorly referenced in wider studies of the later prehistoric in Britain, perhaps because there continues to be a low level of theoretical engagement with this evidence.