Ancient Monuments

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Blue Crags hillfort, 730m north-west of Colwell

A Scheduled Monument in Chollerton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0791 / 55°4'44"N

Longitude: -2.0853 / 2°5'6"W

OS Eastings: 394652.69318

OS Northings: 576080.502648

OS Grid: NY946760

Mapcode National: GBR F9WQ.B2

Mapcode Global: WHB1S.YL5M

Entry Name: Blue Crags hillfort, 730m north-west of Colwell

Scheduled Date: 6 August 1954

Last Amended: 22 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011403

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20932

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Chollerton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Chollerton St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age/Romano-British date
situated on a rocky incline of whinstone. The main encircling rampart encloses
a rectangular area measuring 192m north-west to south-east by 70m north-east
to south-west. The rampart, which runs along the edge of the outcrop on the
south, west and east sides, measures on average 5m across and stands to a
height of over 1m; the northern rampart has been quarried away. A double wall,
with an entrance through it, subsequently damaged by quarrying, divides the
enclosure into two parts. The northern and largest part contains the well
preserved foundations of at least 12 circular stone-walled huts measuring on
average 6.5m in diameter with walls standing 0.5m high. When nine of the
hut circles were examined in 1924 the finds uncovered included cupmarked
stones, quernstones for the grinding of corn, whetstones and a piece of
medieval pottery. The southern enclosure, which contains no visible traces of
habitation, would have been used to contain stock. The settlement was given
added defence by the addition of substantial ramparts at the foot of the crags
on the east and west sides.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements
dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non-
defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone
construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also
common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures
were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common.
Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish border, another type occurs where the
settlement enclosure was `scooped' into the hillslope. Frequently the
enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard
layout included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of
the enclosure, facing the single entranceway. In front of the houses were
pathways and small enclosed yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two
houses, but larger enclosures could contain as many as six. At some sites the
settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main
enclosure and clustered around it. At these sites up to 30 houses may be
found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form
and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known.
These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives
throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their origins lie in settlement
forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads are common
throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as well-preserved
earthworks. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally common,
although there they can frequently only be located through aerial photography.
All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be
identified as nationally important.

Blue Crags hillfort survives well, despite the loss of the northern rampart.
Limited excavation has confirmed that settlement remains within the interior
of the site are extensive and well preserved. The survival of visible internal
sub-divisions makes this an unusual monument which will contribute
significantly to study of prehistoric/Romano-British settlement patterns in
this area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ball, T, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 2 1927' in Blue Crag Promontory Fort, Colwell, Northumberland, (1927), 23-24
No. 5443,

Source: Historic England

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