Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Henge, pit-circle and later cemetery, 850m north east of Millfield Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Ford, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.6081 / 55°36'29"N

Longitude: -2.1064 / 2°6'23"W

OS Eastings: 393393.669691

OS Northings: 634943.601555

OS Grid: NT933349

Mapcode National: GBR F3QL.RH

Mapcode Global: WH9Z8.M95M

Entry Name: Henge, pit-circle and later cemetery, 850m north east of Millfield Hill

Scheduled Date: 28 March 1972

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006458

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 506

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ford

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the buried remains of a Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge and the buried remains of an associated pit-circle with an early medieval cemetery within it, situated on level ground 240m west of the River Till. The henge, also present as a cropmark on aerial photographs, is visible as a sub-circular enclosure measuring approximately 25m in diameter surrounded by single bank with an internal ditch. The bank and ditch are interrupted by opposed entrances on the north west and south east sides. Partial excavation of the henge revealed the ditch to be 4m to 5m in width and 1.2m to 1.3m in depth with a flat bottom. It also revealed the presence of a pit-circle including of at least thirty small pits, varying in diameter from 0.2m to 0.6m and in depth from 0.13m to 0.39m, located immediately inside the ditch and concentric to it. Inside the pit-circle were six larger pits within which were the remains of a stone cist and stone packing suggestive of their use for burial although no bones were recovered. The excavation also uncovered Neolithic and Early Bronze Age pottery from within the ditch and from the central pits. Six Bronze Age barbed and tanged arrowheads were also found within one of the external pits. Lastly, five early medieval graves were also uncovered by the excavation within or near the henge indicating the reuse of the site as a cemetery.

PastScape Monument No:- 3861 (henge), 1196333 (early medieval cemetery)
NMR:- NT93SW13 (henge), NT93SW60 (early medieval cemetery)
Northumberland HER:- 2010

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which usually date to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval- shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the exception of south-eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally situated on low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are rare nationally with about 80 known examples. As one of the few types of identified Neolithic structures and in view of their comparative rarity, all henges are considered to be of national importance.
Despite having been subject to cultivation, excavation has shown that the henge north east of Millfield Hill retains significant archaeological deposits within its below ground features including ditches, pits and graves. The monument is extremely representative of its period and, lying on low ground near a major river, occupies a classic landscape setting for its type. It lies within a landscape of important archaeological sites including the henges of East Marleyknowe, the Coupland Henge and Milfield South, which lie to the south. Taken together these monuments form a complex of ritual monuments comparable with the most important Neolithic landscapes of England. The presence of a pit-circle within the henge makes the monument rare within its type, but has important comparisons with the Late Neolithic pit-circle henge on Cranborne Chase, Maumbury Rings at Dorchester, the Durrington 67 pit circle near Woodhenge, Wiltshire and the West Akeld Steads henge which lies 5km to the south east.

Source: Historic England

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