Ancient Monuments

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Staw Hill defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5644 / 55°33'51"N

Longitude: -2.1849 / 2°11'5"W

OS Eastings: 388435.760499

OS Northings: 630098.67748

OS Grid: NT884300

Mapcode National: GBR F453.S4

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.DDTL

Entry Name: Staw Hill defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 22 August 1935

Last Amended: 29 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008218

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24568

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


This monument includes a small defended settlement of a type constructed
during the Early Iron Age in northern Britain. The oval enclosure is
contained within an earth and stone bank and is strengthened on the west
side by the addition of a second rampart. A small sub-rectangular annexe,
possibly used as a stock enclosure, is attached to the outer rampart. The
interior of the main enclosure contains the circular stone foundations of at
least three prehistoric buildings.
The site lies on the flattened crest of a ridge, overlooked by higher ground
to the west, but with clear views into the valleys to north, south and east.
The settlement comprises an oval area of c.0.13ha, entirely enclosed by a
rampart c.2m high and up to 7.5m wide. The rampart appears to be of dump
rampart construction: large revetting boulders are visible at the rampart
foot on the western side. There is a simple gap entrance 3m wide facing
ESE, marked on the north side by a large upright stone. A second rampart of
similar construction, c.4m wide by 1m high, defends the dead ground to the
north west. The inner and outer ramparts create an annexe with a maximum
width of 9.6m at the north west end. The area enclosed between the two
ramparts is divided by a number of slight earth and stone banks running
radially between the ramparts.
In the interior of the main enclosure traces of at least three stone-founded
hut circles with internal diameters of 5m-11.5m, one of which appears to have
a bottle-neck approach to the entrance, are clearly visible. Also within the
interior is an area c.8m wide enclosed by a wide bank which runs roughly
parallel with the east rampart from the entrance gap to the northern rampart.
Attached to the exterior of the outer rampart are the earth and stone
foundations, 0.2m high, of a sub-rectangular enclosure with overall
dimensions of 12.6m by 14.2m. This is built against the exterior bank of the
outer rampart and is secondary to it. An area of higher more level ground
measuring 4m by 4m in the north west corner of this enclosure may represent
the platform for a small building.

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

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of
different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied
in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts
built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites,
sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended
settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops,
others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of
earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate),
others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen
ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber
fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built
round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept
in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed
yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single
family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction
and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through
to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD).
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are
important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during
this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national

The defended enclosure at Staw Hill is a very well preserved example of a
northern prehistoric defended settlement. It has suffered very little
disturbance, the earthwork defences survive well and the central settlement
area remains intact with the ground plan of stone-founded hut circles and
banks clearly visible. The potential for the survival of deposits representing
use within the outer annexe and sub-rectangular enclosure is also high.
The site is situated within an area of clustered archaeological sites of high
quality and therefore forms part of a wider archaeological landscape. As such
it will contribute significantly to the study of the wider settlement pattern
during this period.

Source: Historic England

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