Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Unenclosed hut circle settlement 250m west of Woolaw

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.28 / 55°16'47"N

Longitude: -2.2876 / 2°17'15"W

OS Eastings: 381828.479893

OS Northings: 598461.623834

OS Grid: NY818984

Mapcode National: GBR D7GD.J3

Mapcode Global: WH8ZL.TKV5

Entry Name: Unenclosed hut circle settlement 250m west of Woolaw

Scheduled Date: 22 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009375

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25090

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Rochester

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Horsley with Byrness

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a hut circle settlement of prehistoric date situated on
the top of a north east facing slope overlooking the valley of the River Rede.
The settlement is visible as the remains of three circular stone-founded
houses. The most easterly of the houses is 10m in diameter within a boulder
wall on average 1m wide and 0.4m high and with an entrance in the eastern
side. The middle house is 9m in diameter and has a roughly 10m square
enclosure attached to its southern side, defined by a boulder wall. The third
and most westerly house is 8m in diameter and, although less well defined, it
is still clearly visible as a circular setting of stones.

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

Unenclosed hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric
farmers. The hut circles take a variety of forms. Some are stone based and are
visible as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Others were
timber constructions and only the shallow groove in which the timber uprights
used in the wall construction stood can now be identified; this may survive as
a slight earthwork feature or may be visible on aerial photographs. Some can
only be identified by the artificial earthwork platforms created as level
stances for the houses. The number of houses in a settlement varies between
one and twelve. In areas where they were constructed on hillslopes the
platforms on which the houses stood are commonly arrayed in tiers along the
contour of the slope. Several settlements have been shown to be associated
with organised field plots, the fields being defined by low stony banks or
indicated by groups of clearance cairns.
Many unenclosed settlements have been shown to date to the Bronze Age but it
is also clear that they were still being constructed and used in the Early
Iron Age. They provide an important contrast to the various types of enclosed
and defended settlements which were also being constructed and used around the
same time. Their longevity of use and their relationship with other monument
types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation
and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.

The unenclosed settlement west of Woolaw is reasonably well preserved and
retains significant archaeological remains. The importance of the monument is
enhanced by the survival of several other prehistoric settlements in the
immediate vicinity. Taken together they will add to our knowledge and
understanding of prehistoric settlement and activity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Charlton, , Day, , Northern Archaeological Survey Gazeteer, (1975), 113
Charlton, , Day, , Northern Archaeological Survey Gazeteer, (1975), 113
Gates, A, 'Settlement in North Britain 1000BC - AD 1000' in Unenclosed Settlements in Northumberland, (1983), 103-148
Gates, A, 'Settlement in North Britain 1000BC - AD 1000' in Unenclosed Settlements in Northumberland, (1983), 103-148
NY 89 NW 25,

Source: Historic England

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