The Iron Age hill-fort at Grimthorpe (Grid reference SE.816535) in the parish of Millington, East Riding of Yorkshire, is on the western edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, with a commanding position over the Vale of York. There is an uninterrupted view to the White Horse on the Hambleton Hills, 25 miles to the north-west; beyond York, 13 miles to the west, to the Pennines; and to the south 25 miles to the chimneys of Keadby and Scunthorpe. To the west and south the land slopes away to the Vale of York, and to the north and east there is a sharper fall to Given Dale and Whitekeld Dale. The hill-fort defences follow the 520 feet contour, and enclose an approximately circular area of eight acres (fig. 1).
A traditional reference may be preserved in the field-name—Bruffs—perhaps a variation of ‘Brough’, which ‘refers in all cases to ancient camps, usually Roman ones’. But all surface indications have now been obliterated by ploughing, and even a century ago there was little more to be seen. John Phillips in 1853 noticed ‘unmistakable traces of ancient but unascertainable occupation’, and in 1871 an excavation by J. R. Mortimer located ‘the filled up inner ditch of a supposed camp’. But Mortimer was not concerned with the settlement; his interest had been aroused by the discovery, in 1868, of a burial with rich grave-goods, including metalwork with La Tène ornament, in a chalk-pit within the south-west sector of the hill-fort.