Ancient Monuments

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Palisaded settlement, 740m north west of Northfieldhead

A Scheduled Monument in Alnham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4018 / 55°24'6"N

Longitude: -2.0272 / 2°1'38"W

OS Eastings: 398372.012324

OS Northings: 611979.163941

OS Grid: NT983119

Mapcode National: GBR G58Z.XF

Mapcode Global: WHB08.THT9

Entry Name: Palisaded settlement, 740m north west of Northfieldhead

Scheduled Date: 1 February 1980

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006412

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 633

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Alnham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of an Iron Age palisaded settlement situated on the north-eastern edge of Northfield Hill. The sub-circular enclosure measures 57m by 62m and is denoted by a single bank visible as a low earthwork, which is interrupted by a 2.5m wide entrance. Within the interior of the settlement, there are the remains of at least 15 timber built round houses with an average diameter of 8m. The majority of the round houses are visible as 'ring-grooves' with at least four of them being double ring-grooves. The internal remains represent more than one phase of occupation.

PastScape Monument No:- 1033839
NMR:- NT91SE26
Northumberland HER:- 1355

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their distribution is largely restricted to north-eastern England, the Borders and southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures. Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlements recorded in the area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled social conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time. Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common. Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were preceded by timber palisades. Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving examples are believed to be nationally important.
The palisaded settlement 740m north west of Northfieldhead is well-preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the site and environmental deposits relating to the use of the surrounding landscape. As a rare monument type nationally, and representing more than one phase of occupation, this example will provides insight into the character of settlement and subsistence during the Iron Age and the manner in which this developed over time.

Source: Historic England

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