Ancient Monuments

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Defended settlement, 200m south west of Bolam Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Belsay, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.135 / 55°8'6"N

Longitude: -1.8661 / 1°51'57"W

OS Eastings: 408636.508686

OS Northings: 582305.322437

OS Grid: NZ086823

Mapcode National: GBR H9D2.S1

Mapcode Global: WHC2V.96N7

Entry Name: Defended settlement, 200m south west of Bolam Hall

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1968

Last Amended: 30 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011836

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25148

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


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date situated on the
summit of Bolam Hill. The roughly oval enclosure measures a maximum of 100m
east to west by 72m north to south within two ramparts of stone and earth. The
outer rampart has been levelled on the eastern side of the enclosure and only
the inner one is visible here. Elsewhere the inner rampart is the most
substantial, being on average between 8m and 10m wide and standing to a height
of up to 2m. An original entrance 5m wide is visible through the centre of the
south side of the enclosure. A well worn trackway or hollow way is situated
immediately outside the enclosure to the south west; although this is no
longer visible on the surface, it survives as a buried feature which has
become infilled. This is thought to represent the remains of an original track
giving access into the main south entrance. It is reported that several quern
stones, implements used for the grinding of corn, were discovered in the
settlement during the 19th century but their present location is unknown. A
medieval tower is thought to have been situated within the prehistoric
enclosure and as late as 1920 the foundations of a square building were still
visible. Today, however, it is not possible to detect any surface indications
of this structure. It is thought that the tower was demolished to provide
stone for the construction of the present Bolam Hall in the 19th century.

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

The defended settlement near Bolam Hall is well preserved and retains
significant archaeological deposits. Remains of the square building noted on
the site in the 1920's will also survive and it will be possible to confirm
its nature and data. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the
survival of two contemporary settlements nearby. Taken together they will
contribute to any study of the wider settlement pattern at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume 1 part 2, (1827), 336-7
Ball, T, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 3 ser 10' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 3 ser 10, (1920), 240
Ball, T, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle, (1922), 240
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965), 61
Long, B, (1965)

Source: Historic England

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