Ancient Monuments

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Defended settlement, 400m south west of South Farm, Houghton

A Scheduled Monument in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.9935 / 54°59'36"N

Longitude: -1.8102 / 1°48'36"W

OS Eastings: 412242.790734

OS Northings: 566566.892256

OS Grid: NZ122665

Mapcode National: GBR HBSP.XR

Mapcode Global: WHC3G.5R87

Entry Name: Defended settlement, 400m south west of South Farm, Houghton

Scheduled Date: 10 March 1932

Last Amended: 11 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014076

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25187

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Heddon-on-the-Wall

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Heddon-on-the-Wall St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date on gently sloping
ground set a short distance back from a rocky ridge which commands extensive
views across the valley of the River Tyne. The enclosure, oval in shape,
measures 104m east to west by 74m north to south within a ditch varying
between 7m to 8m wide and up to 1.3m deep. The ditch is infilled with silt for
much of its circuit and is most prominent on the northern side. Within the
ditch there are traces of an inner rampart of stone and earth which is best
preserved at the western end where it is a maximum of 6m wide and 0.3m high.
Outside of the ditch fragmentary remains of a counter-scarp bank are visible
on all sides but the north, where it has been levelled by the construction of
the road and is best preserved at the western end. There are opposing
entrances through the east and the west sides of the enclosure, carried across
the ditch on causeways 3.6m wide and 4.8m wide respectively.

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 at South Farm, Houghton, is reasonably well preserved
and retains significant archaeological deposits. There are few Iron Age
enclosures in the Tyne valley and this is a valuable example of its type.
Taken with the other examples it will add greatly to any study of the wider
settlement pattern at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965), 64
NZ 16 NW 30,

Source: Historic England

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