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Little Hetha defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5461 / 55°32'45"N

Longitude: -2.182 / 2°10'55"W

OS Eastings: 388615.892064

OS Northings: 628056.747755

OS Grid: NT886280

Mapcode National: GBR F469.DQ

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.GV6N

Entry Name: Little Hetha defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 27 August 1935

Last Amended: 9 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014483

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24602

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Kirknewton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a defended settlement of Iron Age date
with secondary occupation of probable medieval date. The defended settlement,
roughly oval in shape, is situated on the summit of a spur with steep slopes
on all sides except the south where the ground falls away gently and then
rises sharply to overlook the site. The settlement measures internally c.73m
north east to south west by c.55m south east to north west and is enclosed by
two ramparts except on the north side where there are three; there is a berm
between the ramparts. The outer rampart stands to a maximum height of 1.2m and
measures an average 5m wide. On the south side it is 8m wide and at the north
end it has been thickened to increase the width to 10m; the thickening has
created a level platform. On the east side the outer rampart becomes very
shallow and disappears. The middle rampart, on the north side, measures 5m
wide and stands to a height of 2m. It is clearly visible but has suffered some
robbing. The ramparts are made up of earth and stone and large revetting
boulders are visible around the perimeter of the outer rampart. There are two
entrances, one facing north east and the other facing north west. The north
east entrance is 3m wide and marked by a large stone, the north west entrance
is 4m wide and protected by the outer rampart which overlaps it. Set into the
inner rampart to the south of the north west entrance are the foundations of a
sub rectangular structure, 5m wide, possibly representing a guard chamber. The
interior of the site contains the remains of at least three stone founded hut
circles measuring 2m-8m in diameter. Across the middle of the enclosure,
running from the south east side and curving gently to the north west, is a
bank of earth and stones c.2m wide and 0.5m high. Set into the northern edge
of the bank are three square-ended scoops 2m wide from which faint traces of
linear earthworks run northwards whose purpose is unclear. To the south of the
bank are the stone foundations of two adjacent rectangular buildings measuring
7m by 5m and 2m by 2.5m. To the north of these remains is a wide shallow
scooped area measuring 14m north to south by 12m east to west and containing a
possible stone setting. The rectangular structures are evidence of secondary
use of the enclosure although their nature and date is unclear. The fence line
on the south east side of the monument is excluded but the ground beneath is

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 on Little Hetha is a reasonably well preserved example
of a northern prehistoric defended settlement. Despite some robbing the full
circuit of the ramparts is visible and secondary occupation has not obscured
prehistoric building foundations. The site is situated within an area of
broadly contemporary settlements of very high quality and forms part of a
wider archaeological landscape. As such it will contribute significantly to
our understanding of the organisation and development of land during this

Source: Historic England

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