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Settlements and cairn east of Laddies Knowe

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5531 / 55°33'11"N

Longitude: -2.1866 / 2°11'11"W

OS Eastings: 388322.792989

OS Northings: 628842.066578

OS Grid: NT883288

Mapcode National: GBR F457.D5

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.CPZ8

Entry Name: Settlements and cairn east of Laddies Knowe

Scheduled Date: 5 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008363

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24572

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 prehistoric defended settlement, an enclosed native
homestead of the Roman period and a prehistoric funerary cairn. A series of
well preserved cultivation terraces lie to the south east of the defended
settlement and appear to be contemporary with it. The full extent and nature
of this field system is not yet fully understood, hence it is not included in
the scheduling.
The defended settlement is situated on the summit of a spur with steep slopes
to the north west and south east. It comprises an oval shaped area of c.0.7ha
enclosed by a double rampart. The ramparts have been constructed by cutting
into the natural hillslope to form a vertical face which was then revetted by
stone, in places this incorporates natural stone outcrops. Areas of the
revetting can be clearly seen in disturbed areas on the east side of both
ramparts. The ramparts are most clearly defined on the east side where they
are up to 4m wide and 1.6m high, an outer rampart is not evident on the west
side. A break in the ramparts at the north end may indicate the position of
the entrance.
The south west defences of the defended settlement are abutted by an enclosed
homestead of a later date. The homestead is a sub-rectangular enclosure, c.22m
x 18m, contained by a single bank of earth and stones. The bank is c.3m wide
and up to 0.5m high. The east side of the enclosure is scooped into the
hillside to a depth of c.1m. The circular stone foundations of two prehistoric
buildings are visible. One building, c.13m in diameter, is set into the south
east side of the enclosure. A second, c.6m in diameter, lies outside the
enclosure and is built against the northern bank. Immediately to the south of
the homestead lies a turf covered stone cairn, 8m in diameter and c.1m high.
The cairn is situated on the edge of the spur overlooking the valley to the

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

The settlements and cairn to the east of Laddies Knowe demonstrate evidence of
human activity over a considerable period. The round cairn represents the
earliest known activity on the hill spur. Round cairns are prehistoric
funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were
constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials which were
sometimes placed within the mound in stone lined compartments called cists.
They often occupy prominent locations and are a major visual element in the
modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands. They
are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion
of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The cairn to the
east of Laddies Knowe is a well preserved example of a funerary round cairn
and will contribute to the study of beliefs and social organisation amongst
early prehistoric communities. The adjacent defended settlement dates to the
later prehistoric period (7th - 5th centuries BC). It is one of a variety of
defensive settlements which were 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
enclosed areas of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements,
were also constructed. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction,
some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others 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 winter, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these
sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used
as farmsteads. 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 importance. The defended settlement east of Laddies Knowe has a
clearly defined outer circuit, no internal features are visible but there is
no indication that the interior has been disturbed. The importance of this
site is enhanced by its close spatial association with the cairn and later
The homestead represents the latest identified occupation on the site. It is
an enclosed settlement of a type constructed and used by non-Roman natives
throughout the period of Roman occupation. Several distinctive types have been
identified in Northumberland. The majority were small, non-defensive, enclosed
settlements or farms. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots,
the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Frequently the enclosures reveal a
regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard layout included one
or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of the enclosure, facing
the single entranceway. In front of the houses were paths and small enclosed
yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two houses, but larger enclosures
could contain as many as six. These homesteads are common throughout the
uplands where they frequently survive as well-preserved earthworks. All
homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified
as nationally important. The homestead east of Laddies Knowe survives well
and is a good example of a Roman period native settlement. It is one of a
group of native settlements in the area and will contribute to the study of
the wider settlement pattern during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Topping, P, 'Northern Archaeology 4, part 1' in Stratigraphy of Early Agricultural Remains in Kirknewton Area, , Vol. Vol 4, 1, (1983), 21-31

Source: Historic England

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