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Witchy Neuk univallate hillfort and linear boundary 600m west of Hepple Whitefield Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Hepple, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2881 / 55°17'17"N

Longitude: -2.0301 / 2°1'48"W

OS Eastings: 398182.4062

OS Northings: 599327.4807

OS Grid: NY981993

Mapcode National: GBR G789.85

Mapcode Global: WHB0V.SBGY

Entry Name: Witchy Neuk univallate hillfort and linear boundary 600m west of Hepple Whitefield Farm

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1932

Last Amended: 10 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008873

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20904

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Hepple

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a hillfort (also known as Witchy Nick hillfort) of Iron
Age date and an associated boundary situated on a rocky headland between the
Swindon and Whitefield Burns. The situation was carefully chosen to utilize
the end of a crag which provides natural defences on the northern side.
The enclosure is D-shaped in plan and measures 90m east-west by 45m north-
south within an immense single rampart and ditch. The well-preserved rampart
varies in height from 1.4 to as much as 2.6m; there are clear traces in some
areas of a dry stone wall revetment. The ditch is 1.8m deep and up to 6.5m
wide. The slighter wall which is visible along the top of the crags at the
northern end is of modern construction. The hillfort has two entrances,
one at the east and one at the western end of the enclosure. Both entrances
clearly display the remains of defensive mounds, or clavicula, projecting
outwards; that at the western entrance is curved. There are clear traces of
at least two circular houses within the enclosure at the south-eastern end.
A linear earthwork bank with a ditch on its western side runs from the
south-east end of the enclosure in a SSE direction for 365m; it curves to
avoid the highest part of a ridge, the area now occupied by a small pond, and
runs into Hall Plantation.
Limited excavations of the hillfort and boundary took place in 1936; the
remains of the two hut circles were uncovered inside the fort and
small areas of the fort rampart and western entrance were examined. A quern
for the grinding of corn and a fragment of glass from a jug were recovered
from the excavations, both suggesting occupation in the Roman period.
The bank of the linear boundary was shown to measure 0.8m high by 3.5m across
and the ditch, V-shaped in profile, was 1.2m deep and 2.3m across. The fence
lines which cross the linear boundary and the fence around Hall plantation are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

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

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for between 150 and 200 years
prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. Internal features include square or rectangular buildings supported
by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone
round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered postholes,
stakeholes and gullies. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150
examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low,
in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas
where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the
Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different
classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern
England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the
rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which
survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Witchy Neuk hillfort survives in a good state of preservation with no sign
of major disturbance. It is one of several hillforts overlooking the River
Coquet and will contribute to the study of later Prehistoric settlement and
activity along this river valley. The survival of an associated linear
earthwork is an unusual feature.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965)
Wake, T, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 16 1939' in Excavations at Witchy Neuk, Hepple, (1939)
No. 2213,

Source: Historic England

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