Ancient Monuments

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Ad Gefrin Anglo-Saxon township and prehistoric remains

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5683 / 55°34'5"N

Longitude: -2.1176 / 2°7'3"W

OS Eastings: 392681.601299

OS Northings: 630516.453412

OS Grid: NT926305

Mapcode National: GBR F4N1.BR

Mapcode Global: WH9ZG.F9VM

Entry Name: Ad Gefrin Anglo-Saxon township and prehistoric remains

Scheduled Date: 24 January 1953

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006519

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 302

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Kirknewton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the extensive remains of the Anglo-Saxon royal township of Ad Gefrin, along with earlier pits, ring ditches, burials and enclosures dating from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, situated on a slight rise south of the River Glen. The remains which cover an area of 12.7ha are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs and survive as below ground archaeological features.
The most extensive element of the monument, is the Anglo-Saxon royal township of Ad Gefrin. At least five major phases of Anglo-Saxon occupation have been identified involving the sequential development of the site through the construction of a number of enclosures, timber buildings, a grubenhaus, a temple, an assembly structure, a 'Great Hall', a cemetery, an early church and a number of other buildings. The Anglo-Saxon township is referred to by the Venerable Bede and probably originated in the second half of the 6th century AD. It was destroyed by fire in AD 632 in the reign of Edwin and in AD 651, and the site was finally abandoned in AD685 when the settlement was re-established at Maelmin 3.5km away. The defined structural phases of the settlement partially relate to the episodes of destruction and as a consequence major buildings such as the 'Great Hall' were rebuilt a number of times using different constructional techniques. The site was identified from aerial photography in 1949 and was partially excavated by Hope-Taylor from 1953-1962.
Pre-dating the establishment of the royal township, the area was extensively used in prehistoric times; the earliest activity at the site date to the later Neolithic and include a pit containing Neolithic pottery and a sub-oval henge monument measuring approximately 16m to 19m internally. There are also a number of features dating to the later Neoltihic/Early Bronze Age including a ring ditch or pit circle containing a series of cremation deposits associated with late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age pottery, a second ring ditch, 14m in diameter and a stone cist. The emphasis on burial continues into the Iron Age with a number of Iron Age cremations existing across the site. A large sub-rectangular double palisaded enclosure measuring roughly 145m east to west and 120m north to south, with an entrance in its north side, is considered to date to either the Iron Age or Anglo-Saxon Period.
All fence posts and boundary walls that cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

PastScape Monument No:- 3855, 3938 (henge), 1196943 (pit), 1196910 (ring ditch), 1196924 (ring ditch), 3906 (cist), 1369639 (enclosure), 1369646 (enclosure), 139693 (timber buildings)
NMR:- NT93SW11, NT93SW40 (henge), NT93SW64 (pit), NT93SW63 (ring ditch), NT93SW62 (ring ditch), NT93SW26 (cist), NT93SW71 (enclosure), NT93SW72 (enclosure), NT93SW74 (timber buildings)
Northumberland HER:- 2008

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Ad Gefrin Anglo-Saxon township and the earlier prehistoric remains has indicated that it retains extensive and significant deposits dating from the Neolithic through to the Anglo-Saxon period. Whilst this is not understood to represent continuous occupation, it does indicate a continued importance of place spanning a period of over 3000 years. The character of the development of the site is well illustrated with a number of structures modifying or replacing earlier features. The survival of the Anglo-Saxon township is highly significant and it exhibits a complex developmental history. The remains from this period are rare nationally and their value is enhanced by their historical relationship to the Anglo-Saxon palace at nearby Maelmin. The distance between the two settlements is the shortest between any known Anglo-Saxon palaces, and their sequential inhabitation provides a unique opportunity to understand the development of an Anglo-Saxon community over time.

Source: Historic England

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