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Defended settlement on Slate Hill, 300m north west of Bolam Lake

A Scheduled Monument in Belsay, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.1338 / 55°8'1"N

Longitude: -1.8799 / 1°52'47"W

OS Eastings: 407753.877251

OS Northings: 582161.467869

OS Grid: NZ077821

Mapcode National: GBR H992.SH

Mapcode Global: WHC2V.3727

Entry Name: Defended settlement on Slate Hill, 300m north west of Bolam Lake

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1963

Last Amended: 20 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011834

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25145

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Belsay

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Bolam St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date occupying the
summit of Slate Hill. The roughly semicircular enclosure measures a maximum
of 98m east to west by 62m north to south within four concentric ramparts on
the north and west sides. The ramparts are thought to have originally
continued around the eastern side but have become disturbed by surface
quarrying and only a single rampart is now visible here. The south side of the
enclosure is defended naturally by a precipitous slope. The ramparts,
constructed of stone and earth, measure between 4m and 6m broad and 1.4m high
and are terraced into the sloping hillside. A break in the outer ramparts on
the western side of the enclosure is thought to represent the site of an
original entrance. The discovery of a quern, an Iron Age implement used for
the grinding of corn, is recorded at the settlement but its present location
is unknown. The stone wall which crosses the monument from east to west is
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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
importance.

Although the monument has suffered some internal damage from surface
quarrying, the defended settlement on Slate Hill is reasonably well preserved
and retains significant archaeological deposits. The importance of the
monument is enhanced by the survival of two contemporary settlements in
close proximity to it. Taken together they will contribute to any study of the
wider settlement pattern at this time.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Ball, T, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 3 ser 10' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 3 ser 10, (1922), 248-50
Davies, J, Davidson, J, 'Northern Archaeology vol 9 1988-89' in A Survey of Bolam and Shaftoe area, Northumberland, (1990), 57-96
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965), 62
Other
NZ 08 SE 13,

Source: Historic England

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