Castle Hill is a scheduled monument overlooking Huddersfield. The hilltop currently features the Victoria tower. With the hill has being inhabited for at least 4 thousand years.
The Mesolithic hunter and gatherers were the first people to visit and temporarily settle on the hill. During the early iron age around 555 BC, a hillfort was constructed. This site took up the entire hilltop. Modifications to this hillfort were made around 43 AD to improve the defenses. This is speculated to have been due to the threat from the Roman invaders. Excavations on a part of the hillfort in 1970 demonstrated that the area was subject to severe episodes of burning. This is due to the presence of rock walls that had turned to glass. The banks and ditches of the area do not originate from the hillfort. Instead from modifications made during the middle ages.
After the Norman conquest of 1066, this area became part of the Honour of Pontefract. Which was held by the De Laci family. This family built a castle on the hill between 11442 to 1154. Which is mentioned in a charter of King Steven to Henry De Laci. In the early 14th century, there was an attempt to found a settlement in the lower bailey. It was probably abandoned during the 1340s. However, maps of the time up till around 1634 mark the hill as the site of a town. After the end of the middle ages, castle hill remained uninhabited. The area was seen as a great place for warning beacons. As such became part of a network of beacons throughout the country.
The flat top of Castle Hill has been a useful place for hosting venues. With many large political, religious and other meetings taking place there. Chartist rallies during the political reform movements in the 1800s were held there. At least four chartist rallies were held on top of the hill between 1843 and 1848. During the Great Weaver’s strike of 1883. A rally numbering in the thousands braved the bitter weather. Listening to speeches by influential union leaders.
A tavern was also constructed on the hill in 1810. To cater to those who would like to use the area for recreation. This was expanded upon after the creation of a bowling green to the south of the hill. Revelers also used the site for bare knuckle boxing matches, dogfighting and cockfighting. The pub on the hill was demolished after planning conditions were broken. Subsequent plans to rebuild it have been rejected by the council.
During the second world war an anti-aircraft battery was built near the south east end of the hill. This was paired with a rangefinder was located in the outer bailey. The remains of these can still be seen today. Occasionally the remains of high explosive shells casings can be picked up in the fields surrounding the hill.
Today the hill retains some of the remnants of its past uses. Being still popular with locals and tourists alike. The council supported this. By modifying the powerlines and buried them underground so that tourists can fly kites.
On top of the hill is the grade two listed building Victoria tower. By 1897 Queen Victoria had reigned over the British Empire for sixty years, longer than any previous monarch. A permanent memorial was planned to be built. This monument was conceived of in the form of a tower overlooking the town of Huddersfield. The tower was opened by the Earl of Scarborough on the 24th of June 1899. Although sometimes referred to as the jubilee tower the correct name is the Victoria tower.
It was designed by Isaac Jones of London and used stone from Crosland hill. It cost £3,298 to construct the monument. At a staggering height of 106 feet making the top of the tower around 1000 feet above sea level. During the second world war it was debated if the tower should be demolished. This was so that German bombers couldn’t utilize it as a navigation aide, however this never came to pass. Although a few bombs were dropped near the tower in 1940 and 1941 these were probably random jettisons. Not a targeted bombing run.