Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn cemetery, 820m south west of Stell Plantation

A Scheduled Monument in Chatton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5342 / 55°32'3"N

Longitude: -1.8157 / 1°48'56"W

OS Eastings: 411732.300168

OS Northings: 626734.167883

OS Grid: NU117267

Mapcode National: GBR H4RF.QZ

Mapcode Global: WHC0Y.25N7

Entry Name: Round cairn cemetery, 820m south west of Stell Plantation

Scheduled Date: 19 September 1969

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006463

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 460

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Chatton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Lucker St Hilda

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a Bronze Age round cairn cemetery extending across an area of approximately 17.6ha along the ridge-top of Longstone Hill. Within the group there are at least 40 cairns with the majority measuring between 2.7m to 7.6m in diameter and between 0.3m to 0.9m high. In addition there are three large cairns situated towards the centre of the group all of which were subjected to partial excavation during the 19th century. The north west cairn (NU1165 2684) is approximately 19m in diameter and stands to a height of roughly 2m; excavation revealed the presence of a stone cist in its centre covered by a stone slab. Within the cist was a Bronze Age pot known as a Beaker and a skeleton laid on its left side with its head to the east. The central cairn (NU1172 2681) was of similar diameter and was found to contain a rectangular grave in its centre filled with stones. A whetstone, used for sharpening metal blades, was found within the matrix of the cairn. The south east cairn (NU1178 2679) is approximately 17m in diameter and roughly 2m high and was found to contain a stone cist in its centre. The variation in the size of the cairns and the results of the excavations indicate that some of them are burial mounds, whilst the smaller examples are thought to be clearance cairns.

PastScape Monument No:- 7355 (clearance cairn), 7334 (large cairns),
NMR:- NU12NW8 (clearance cairn), NU12NW3 (large cairns),
Northumberland HER:- 4900

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Round cairn cemeteries date to the Bronze Age. They comprise groups of cairns sited in close proximity to one another and take the form of stone mounds constructed to cover single or multiple burials. Contemporary or later `flat' graves may lie between individual cairns. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time and they can exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form. Occasionally they are associated with earlier long cairns. They may also be associated with clearance cairns - heaps of stones cleared from the adjacent ground surface to improve its quality for agricultural activities; these were also being constructed during the Bronze Age, although some examples are of later date. It may be impossible without excavation to distinguish between some burial and clearance cairns. Round cairn cemeteries occur throughout most of upland Britain; their distribution pattern complements that of contemporary lowland earthen round barrows. Often occupying prominent locations they are a major historic element in the modern landscape. Their diversity and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.
The round cairn cemetery 820m south west of Stell Plantation is well-preserved and is a good example. Excavation has shown that it retains significant archaeological deposits relating to its use and that the group contains burial cairns and clearance cairns. Both types are representative of the Bronze Age and the significance of the monument is enhanced by its proximity to the round cairns on Rosebrough Moor to the south. Taken together, the monument provides insight into the character of burial and ritual beliefs in the Bronze Age and their close association with subsistence and land clearance.

Source: Historic England

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