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Huckhoe palisaded enclosure, defended settlement and Romano-British settlement, 550m north east of Bolam West Houses

A Scheduled Monument in Belsay, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1395 / 55°8'22"N

Longitude: -1.8871 / 1°53'13"W

OS Eastings: 407292.904556

OS Northings: 582802.887073

OS Grid: NZ072828

Mapcode National: GBR H980.7F

Mapcode Global: WHB1P.Z2JS

Entry Name: Huckhoe palisaded enclosure, defended settlement and Romano-British settlement, 550m north east of Bolam West Houses

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011838

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25151

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 the remains of a settlement comprising at least four
phases of occupation beginning in the sixth century BC and lasting until at
least the sixth century AD. It is situated in a clearly defensive position on
the edge of an oval promontory above a tributary of the River Wansbeck, and
defended by steep slopes on the north and west sides. The visible remains
today are of an enclosure measuring 94m north east to south west by 72m north
west to south east defined on all sides by a low bank of stone and earth 3m
wide and 0.5m high. There is an entrance through the eastern side of the
enclosure 5m wide. Within the enclosure there are indistinct traces of at
least two round houses and associated walled enclosures. The remains
of habitation which are visible at Huckhoe are considered to represent Romano-
British re-occupation of an Iron Age defended settlement.

This earlier settlement consisted of two stone faced ramparts; the outer
rampart is visible only on the south and east sides of the enclosure some 10m
outside the inner and is 4m wide and stands to a height of 0.8m. There are
traces of a surrounding ditch, visible as a shallow depression on the south
eastern side. Excavations at this monument between 1955 and 1957 revealed an
even earlier phase of settlement.

Lying beneath the later Iron Age defended settlement and the subsequent
Romano-British settlement there was an Early Iron Age palisaded enclosure.
This consisted of three concentric palisades or wooden stockades of oak. These
palisades have been dated securely by radio-carbon dating to the sixth century
BC. During the excavations pieces of Romano-British pottery were discovered.
Of particular note was the discovery of an unusually high amount of iron slag
along with what is identified as an iron worker's hearth. This has led to the
interpretation of the Romano-British phase at Huckhoe as a second century iron
working site.

During the excavations at Huckhoe the remains of one rectangular and two sub-
rectangular buildings were uncovered and interpreted as post Roman houses.
They were constructed on the levelled remains of one of the Romano-British
houses and on the tumbled remains of the main enclosure wall respectively. The
re-occupation of prehistoric and Roman settlements in the post Roman period
has been noted at other sites in Northumberland.

The plantation fence line which crosses the monument is excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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

A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function
dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their
distribution is largely restricted to north-eastern England, the Borders and
southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or
hilltops covering areas of less then 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are
marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the
settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found
within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures.
Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlements recorded in the
area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled social
conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of
timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time.
Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases
of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building
this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen
banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common.
Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were
preceded by timber palisades.
Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known
examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement
pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended
settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving
examples are believed to be nationally important.

During the mid-prehistoric period a variety of different types of defensive
settlements began to be constructed and occupied in northern England, some of
which succeeded palisaded settlements on the same lines. The most obvious
sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a
range of smaller sites 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). 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. 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.

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.
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. At some sites the
settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main
enclosure and clustered around it. 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.

The multi phase settlement at Huckhoe is reasonably well preserved and retains
significant archaeological deposits. It is of particular importance as it
spans almost 1000 years of continuous occupation and contains four different
but related settlement forms during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Aiano, A R, 'Journal Hist Metallurgy Soc 11/2' in , (1977), 79
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 37' in Excavations At The Native Settlement At Huckhoe, (1959), 217-78
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 37' in Excavations At The Native Settlement At Huckhoe, (1959), 217-78
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 46' in A Radiocarbon Date For The Palisaded Settlement At Huckhoe, (1968), 293-5
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 37' in Excavations At The Native Settlement At Huckhoe, (1959), 217-78
Thomas, C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 37' in Wheel Made Post-Roman Sherds, (1959), 258-61
NZ08SE 14,

Source: Historic England

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