Today's Object of the Week may look like just a mound of earth - but it has a fascinating history.

Shackleton Beacon, home to the best example of an Iron Age hillfort within County Durham, continues to be a point of fascination for locals and historians.

Located just north of Redworth village, towards the town of Shildon, this site - first recorded in 1794 - remains well-preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits.

The hillfort lies on a tree-covered hill within the Redworth estate.

The Northern Echo: Shackleton Beacon, the remains of an Iron Age hillfort is today much obscured by timber growth

The Iron Age, spanning 800BC and 43AD, marked a period of strife, evidenced by the fortress's design.

The inhabitants fortified their home with three concentric ramparts and ditches, offering a near-impenetrable barrier from three directions.

This unique historical design has informed much about the nature of conflict and defences in the Iron Age.

The hill's name, 'Shackleton Beacon,' originates from the Anglo-Saxon 'Sceacere Dun,' meaning robber's hill.

The Northern Echo: Looking north towards Shackleton BeaconLooking north towards Shackleton Beacon (Image: DAVID SIMPSON)

In the 1380s, it was recorded as Shakkerdounlawe, leading historians to believe it may have been a campsite for thieves long after it was abandoned by its original inhabitants.

The hillfort took up a prominent position at the western end of a promontory, with sizeable natural slopes protecting its north and west sides.

It was a roughly oval enclosure and its interior held a level platform and a lower area, designated by varying ground levels.

At the heart of the fort today, the remains of an old windmill can be found. These tower mills were in use during the late medieval and post-medieval periods. Used primarliy for grinding grain, the towers built of stone or brick were usually circular and their sides were protected from the weather by paint, tar or tiles.

The Northern Echo: Shackleton Beacon Hill has on old windmill on it, and is County Durham’s best preserved hillfortShackleton Beacon Hill has on old windmill on it, and is County Durham’s best preserved hillfort (Image: THE NORTHERN ECHO)

This tower was converted into a belvedere – a romantic folly with grand views - by Crosier Surtees of Redworth Hall in the late 18th Century.

Unfortunately, while opening it up to his guests, Crosier did much damage to the ancient earthworks.

In 1908, a 3lb flint was found in the hillfort.

One person who saw it at the time said: "It had evidently been the clubhead of an ancient British warrior, as the base has been roughly dressed to fix into a cleft stick where it would have been bound by a leather thong.

"It would have been a powerful weapon as a skull cracker."

This remarkable site offers essential contributions to our understanding of prehistoric settlement and society, thanks to unique findings and continued preservation.

Read about previous objects we have featured:

Why this curious North East cave draws walkers with its mysterious history and beauty

Sweet legacy of an Italian family in Darlington that endures through time

A life without choice: Why hungry bread thief Sophia was jailed, aged just 11

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The tower mill, a post-medieval structure situated within the western half of the hillfort, stands to testify to the later usages of the site as well.

The hillfort and its associated history are crucial components of County Durham's historical landscape, offering us a door into the area's prehistoric past.

Despite centuries passing and landscapes changing, Shackleton Beacon hillfort remains a silent but powerful testament to our Iron Age ancestors.