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North Black Hagg defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.519 / 55°31'8"N

Longitude: -2.1859 / 2°11'9"W

OS Eastings: 388361.246996

OS Northings: 625043.694911

OS Grid: NT883250

Mapcode National: GBR F45M.KD

Mapcode Global: WH9ZM.DJBX

Entry Name: North Black Hagg defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 21 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010336

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24591

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 site is the most southerly of a linear
series of defended settlements which extended along the west side of the
College Valley. It is situated on a prominent summit which is enclosed by two
concentric stone ramparts. Traces of several scooped platforms for
timber-founded prehistoric buildings are visible in the interior. The exterior
face of the rampart is abutted by the foundations of secondary prehistoric
stone buildings.
The site is located on the north east shoulder of Blackhaggs Rigg overlooking
the steep western slopes of the College Valley. The settlement commands
extensive views along the valley to the north and south, although the view to
the south west is restricted by rising ground. The settlement comprises an
oval area of c.0.5ha enclosed by two ramparts on all sides except the east,
where a very steep, scree covered slope is incorporated into the defences. The
defences on the south side have been further strengthened by the artificial
enhancement of a natural slope to provide additional protection. The ramparts
themselves, which mostly survive as core material, are up to 6m wide and 2m
high. A single entrance 4m wide cuts obliquely through the eastern defences.
The approach to the entrance is slightly terraced into the natural slope.
The interior of the site contains at least four scooped platforms, up to 12m
in diameter and 0.6m deep. These are ranged around the western edge of the
interior and would have provided a level foundation for timber buildings. The
circular stone foundations of two secondary prehistoric buildings, up to 7m in
diameter and up to 0.3m high, abut the outer rampart on the south west side.
Traces of three linear walls overlie the northern part of the interior, these
appear to be the remains of a sheep stell which has subsequently been replaced
by the more recent stell overlying the northern defences. Three recent cairns
have also been created along the east and south east defences. All these
features are included in the monument.

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

North Black Hagg is a well preserved example of a northern prehistoric
defended settlement. The full circuit of the two ramparts and traces of stone
and timber building foundations are clearly visible. Several other equally
well preserved settlements of broadly similar date lie in this area. Together
they will contribute significantly to our understanding of the organisation
and development of land use during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Topping, P, 'Northern Archaeology' in A Survey of North Black Hagg Hillfort, Northumberland, , Vol. 10, (1990), 27-28

Source: Historic England

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