Ancient Monuments

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Three cross dykes on Middle Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Alwinton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4022 / 55°24'8"N

Longitude: -2.2018 / 2°12'6"W

OS Eastings: 387318.0105

OS Northings: 612052.3826

OS Grid: NT873120

Mapcode National: GBR F52Z.38

Mapcode Global: WHB06.4GSX

Entry Name: Three cross dykes on Middle Hill

Scheduled Date: 15 April 1980

Last Amended: 3 December 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007525

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21041

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Alwinton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes three cross dykes of prehistoric date situated on Middle
Hill. It is divided into three separate areas. The Barrow and Usway Burns
define the east and western sides of Middle Hill, and two of the cross dykes
have been carefully situated in order to utilize the topograpy of the hillside
and demarcate the northern side of the hill from surrounding lower ground; the
third cross dyke is situated at the southern end of Middle Hill.
The latter is the best preserved of the dykes and runs east-west between the
Barrow and the Usway Burns for 270m. The substantial bank of earth is 6m wide
and stands to a height of 2m. There is a ditch 2m wide on the northern side of
the bank for most of its length; however 10m west of the plantation entrance
the bank makes a slight change of angle and from here the ditch runs along the
southern side of the bank. The central dyke, situated at the northern end of
the hill is visible for 170m running between the Barrow and the Usway Burns;
its western end is best preserved where it takes the form of substantial
double earthen banks with a medial ditch. However it is for the most part
planted with trees and is visible as a single low bank standing to 1m high
with a shallow ditch 2m wide to its north. The most northerly ditch is rather
different in character to the previous two dykes: it is on average 1m high and
2m wide with a shallow ditch to its north. It is rather sinuous in nature and
has clearly been re-used as a medieval or post-medieval boundary wall. The
three dykes demarcated an area of land, Middle Hill, and controlled access to
it. They have continued in use as parish boundaries from the Middle Ages and
today demarcate an area of forestry plantation. The fence line which dissects
the most northerly dyke and that which runs along the southern dyke are
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cross-dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial
photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and
analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans
the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used
later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial
boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities,
although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or
defensive earthworks. Cross-dykes are one of the few monument types which
illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of
considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well-
preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dykes on Middle Hill are exceptionally well preserved and retain
significant archaeological deposits. Cross dykes are uncommon in
Northumberland and these three are particularly fine examples.

Source: Historic England


NT 81 SE 16,
NY 81 SE 16,

Source: Historic England

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