Ancient Monuments

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Univallate hillfort, 560m south west of Shepherd's Cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Chillingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5217 / 55°31'18"N

Longitude: -1.8731 / 1°52'23"W

OS Eastings: 408110.866304

OS Northings: 625336.351716

OS Grid: NU081253

Mapcode National: GBR H4CL.8F

Mapcode Global: WHC0X.6G9V

Entry Name: Univallate hillfort, 560m south west of Shepherd's Cairn

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006565

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 109

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 the remains of a univallate hillfort of Iron Age date, situated on the summit of a hill, commanding views in all directions. The hillfort, also known as Ros Castle hillfort, is oval in shape and encloses an area of roughly 1.2ha. measuring approximately 170m north-south by 90m east-west. The enclosure is surrounded by a single bank and an intermittent external ditch, which closely follow the natural contours of the hill. The bank varies in height from 0.2m to 1m internally and 1.5m to 3m externally, and incorporates a rock outcrop on its south east side. The ditch lies on the southern, eastern and north eastern sides and has a maximum depth of 0.6m. The rampart is breached by entrances on the east and south west sides. The east entrance is defined by out-turned banks. The remains of at least two circular depressions within the hillfort are interpreted as the remains of hut-circles, and there are the earthwork remains of a post-medieval beacon thought to be that described in a 1549 list as 'Rosse Castell'.

The monument lies partly within the Chillingham Grade II Registered Park and Garden. A Post-medieval boundary wall which cross the monument and a trig point situated within it are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

PastScape Monument No:- 5431
Northumberland HER:- 3391

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.
The univallate hillfort 560m south west of Shepherd's Cairn is well preserved and occupies a prominent location in the landscape, being the highest point for some miles. The monument will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment and is important for contributing to our understanding of the structure and organisation of Iron Age society in northern Britain.

Source: Historic England

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