Ancient Monuments

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Univallate hillfort, Romano-British enclosed settlement and medieval farmstead, 224m north west of Chesters

A Scheduled Monument in Alnham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4279 / 55°25'40"N

Longitude: -2.0255 / 2°1'31"W

OS Eastings: 398481.009539

OS Northings: 614885.485123

OS Grid: NT984148

Mapcode National: GBR G59P.82

Mapcode Global: WHB02.VTMS

Entry Name: Univallate hillfort, Romano-British enclosed settlement and medieval farmstead, 224m north west of Chesters

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1934

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006541

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 186

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 a univallate hillfort of Iron Age date, a Romano-British settlement and a medieval settlement, situated north east of the summit of Prickly Knowe on a gentle slope with ground falling away steeply to the north and east. The hillfort is visible as a circular enclosure, measuring approximately 81m east to west by 76m north to south, within a stone-built rampart. An outer rampart is visible as a low earthwork to the south and south east. The hillfort has entrances on its south east, west, north and north east sides. Within the interior of the hillfort are the remains of at least seven hut circles and low banks forming internal divisions, some of which are interpreted as a later Romano-British phase of occupation. Some 8m west of the hillfort there are the foundations of another Romano-British stone hut circle measuring 14.8m in diameter. This hut circle was partially excavated in the 19th century, when a glass bead and quern were found. Attached to the southern rampart of the hillfort there is a low walled rectangular building measuring 28m east-west by 8.2m thought to have been constructed of re-used rubble from the adjacent hillfort. An attached low-walled enclosure measuring 17.6m by 15m has an entrance on its south side and this is considered to be the remains of a small medieval settlement. Situated some 6m east of the hillfort is a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 20m by 10m with walls standing to a height of 0.4m. The form of the enclosure indicates it to be of medieval date and is likely to have been associated with the farmstead to the south west.

PastScape Monument No:- 2230, 1058619 (enclosure), 1058618 (farmstead), 1058620 (hut circle)
NMR:- NT91SE3 (hillfort), NT91SE292 (enclosure), NT91SE291 (farmstead), NT91SE293 (hut circle)
Northumberland HER:- 1332

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Prickly Knowe univallate hillfort is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment and environmental deposits relating to the use of the surrounding landscape. Its importance is enhanced as it forms part of a wider group of prehistoric monuments in the Breamish Valley including the multi-phase landscape of Ingram Farm. The later use of the hillfort for both Romano-British and medieval settlement adds to the importance of the monument and will inform our knowledge of settlement continuity in the uplands.

Source: Historic England

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