Ancient Monuments

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Promontory fort, 551m east of Hepburn Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Chillingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5159 / 55°30'57"N

Longitude: -1.8839 / 1°53'1"W

OS Eastings: 407431.637729

OS Northings: 624690.720409

OS Grid: NU074246

Mapcode National: GBR H48N.YJ

Mapcode Global: WHC0X.1M68

Entry Name: Promontory fort, 551m east of Hepburn Cottage

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1948

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006547

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 196

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Chillingham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Chatton with Chillingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a promontory fort of Iron Age date, situated on the edge of Hepburn Crags on the western perimeter of Hepburn Moor. The fort is overlooked by a hill to the south east and is afforded natural protection by crags on its north and west sides. The roughly D-shaped enclosure is surrounded by a single earth and stone bank measuring up to 5m wide with an external ditch on the east side. Overall the fort measures roughly 75m by 75m. The bank has outer facing stones on its west side and contains entrances through its east and west sides, with the latter giving access to a spring.

PastScape Monument No:- 5716
Northumberland HER:- 3600

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.
The promontory fort 551m east of Hepburn Cottage is a well-preserved example of a rare monument type. It will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment, and environmental deposits relating to the use of the surrounding landscape. Its importance is enhanced by forming part of a wider group of prehistoric monuments in the vicinity, which will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of prehistoric settlement and life in the uplands.

Source: Historic England

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