Ancient Monuments

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Sinkside Hill defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5302 / 55°31'48"N

Longitude: -2.185 / 2°11'6"W

OS Eastings: 388416.549354

OS Northings: 626292.147219

OS Grid: NT884262

Mapcode National: GBR F45H.RD

Mapcode Global: WH9ZM.D8Q9

Entry Name: Sinkside Hill defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1969

Last Amended: 17 June 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009529

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24583

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 defended settlement of a type constructed during the
Early Iron Age in northern Britain. The hilltop settlement is situated in a
naturally defensible position and is enclosed by a broad stone rampart. The
interior contains the traces of timber and stone-founded prehistoric buildings
and the remains of internal banks. The south east circuit is currently
overlain by a modern sheep stell.

The site lies on a high spur commanding views over the valleys of the College
Burn to the east and the Trowup Burn to the north. The settlement comprises a
sub-circular area of c.0.85ha entirely enclosed by a stone rampart up to 3.5m
wide. The rampart now consists mostly of the core material. A simple gap
entrance, 3m wide and defined by large upstanding boulders, is clearly visible
in the north west circuit.

In the interior traces of the foundations for timber and stone built
prehistoric buildings, scoops and internal dividing walls were clearly visible
and surveyed in 1965. The tussocky nature of the interior resulting from
subsequent lack of grazing means that these features are now difficult to
discern although undoubtedly still present. The modern sheep stell in the
south east corner overlies the outer circuit of the rampart wall and is
constructed from stone taken from the rampart.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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 settlement on Sinkside Hill is a well preserved example of a northern
prehistoric defended settlement. The full circuit of the defences is still
clearly visible and evidence suggests the interior contains significant
remains of occupation possibly spanning a considerable period of time. The
proximity of the site to a number of other broadly contemporary settlements
will contribute significantly to our understanding of the organisation and
development of land use during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 43, (1965), 50

Source: Historic England

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