Ancient Monuments

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Tosson Burgh univallate hillfort, 450m west of Great Tosson

A Scheduled Monument in Whitton and Tosson, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2985 / 55°17'54"N

Longitude: -1.9646 / 1°57'52"W

OS Eastings: 402343.268474

OS Northings: 600483.060736

OS Grid: NU023004

Mapcode National: GBR G7Q5.GG

Mapcode Global: WHB0W.S2NZ

Entry Name: Tosson Burgh univallate hillfort, 450m west of Great Tosson

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1932

Last Amended: 6 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011267

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20878

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Whitton and Tosson

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a hillfort of Iron Age date situated on the top of a
prominent hill commanding extensive views of the Coquet valley to the north,
west and east. The situation has been carefully chosen, occupying a knoll
which is naturally defended on the northern and western sides by steep slopes.
The enclosure is oval in shape and measures 100m east-west by 45m north-south
within a single rampart, and on some sides a ditch. Slight traces of the
rampart are visible on the northern side but on the better preserved south and
south-western sides it survives to a height of 2m above the bottom of the
ditch. The rampart has apparently been built up from the insides, in places
giving the appearance of an internal ditch. On the vulnerable south and
eastern sides there is a shallow ditch; the natural steep slope of the ground
made this precaution unnecessary elsewhere. The main entrance is clearly
visible on the southern side as a break in the ditch and a fine staggered
rampart which is very well preserved. A well defined hollow way is visible
leading westwards from the entrance. A gap in the western defences 2.5m
across may represent another entrance and a slight lowering of the rampart at
the eastern end of the enclosure with an apparent causeway across the ditch
may be an original eastern entrance. There are no visible traces of internal
huts or yards within the interior but they survive as buried features beneath
ground level. Several prehistoric finds were reputedly found on the hillside
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including a bronze axe found on the
enclosure by a workman in 1890.

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.

The hillfort on Burgh Hill survives well and will retain extensive
archaeological remains. It is one of several hillforts overlooking the River
Coquet and it will contribute to any study of later prehistoric settlement and
activity along this river valley.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dixon, D D, Upper Coquetdale, (1903), 128-133
Hedley, R C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 2 ser 12' in Archaeologia Aeliana 2 ser 12, (1887), 33-36
No. 2227,

Source: Historic England

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