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Hetha Burn defended settlement, Roman period native enclosed settlement and associated trackways

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5415 / 55°32'29"N

Longitude: -2.1934 / 2°11'36"W

OS Eastings: 387891.330987

OS Northings: 627544.704858

OS Grid: NT878275

Mapcode National: GBR F43C.XC

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.8ZR6

Entry Name: Hetha Burn defended settlement, Roman period native enclosed settlement and associated trackways

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1969

Last Amended: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014497

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24607

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, annexe and
trackways of Iron Age date and an enclosed native settlement dating to the
Roman period. The monument is situated on the lower north west slopes of Great
Hetha. The Roman period native enclosed settlement occupies damp, low lying
ground in the valley bottom, immediately adjacent to Hetha Burn, the defended
settlement occupies slightly higher ground immediately to the south.
The Iron Age defended settlement is not situated in a highly defensive
position, but it is close to water and lies in the shadow of the very heavily
defended settlement on the summit of Great Hetha. The roughly oval enclosure
measures 105m north-south by 90m east-west. It is enclosed within two earth
and stone ramparts up to 1.3m high and 5m wide. On the east, uphill, side the
ramparts are closely spaced and separated by a medial ditch 4m wide and up to
0.5m deep. On the west, downhill, side the space between the two ramparts
increases to 16m and there is no visible trace of a ditch. There are entrances
facing north and south. At the southern entrance, the inner rampart to the
west has a circular shaped terminal which may represent the site of a
guardhouse. The entrance to the north is staggered so that the outer rampart
covers the entrance gap through the inner rampart. The remains of an annexe
survive immediately to the north east. This is visible as a sub-rectangular
area of levelled ground, approximately 113m by 40m, defined by a low, broad
bank up to 4m wide and 0.5m high. A series of trackways run along each side
of the annexe. One track runs NNW-SSE and leads from the higher ground of
Great Hetha down to the Hetha Burn. It clearly predates at least one phase of
the Roman period native enclosed settlement which lies to the north west. This
track consists of a hollow way, between 7m and 12m wide. It is defined on the
south side by the broad bank of the annexe to which it runs parallel, and on
the north side by a low bank up to 1m wide and 0.3m high. The track divides
into two approximately mid-way along its visible length, one track turns south
west to follow the outer edge of the annexe, the other continues up the hill
towards Great Hetha. The track is visible for a total length of 115m; beyond
this it is masked by vegetation. A second track, 3m wide and terraced into
the hillside, runs ENE-WSW from the defended settlement. This track runs
parallel with the northern edge of the annexe, it crosses the NNW-SSE track
and continues north eastwards along the lower slopes of Great Hetha where it
is clearly visible for a length of 14m; beyond this point the trackway has not
been included within the scheduling as, although it can be detected on aerial
photographs, it not clearly discernible on the ground.
The Roman period native enclosed settlement is situated 35m to the south of
the defended settlement and the northern end overlies the earlier trackway.
The site is complex and displays evidence of at least two phases of
development. The earliest settlement appears to have comprised a rectangular
earthwork with a single rampart, this is visible at the north end of the site,
but a later phase of scooped settlement overlies the southern end. The north
bank of the earthwork rampart survives completely, it is 32m long, 1m wide and
up to 0.8m high with a shallow ditch, up to 3m wide, visible on the exterior.
The east bank survives for a length of 22m and the west bank for 20m. The
western bank has a simple gap entrance. The eastern part of the interior of
the site has been terraced back into the hillside, resulting in a scooped area
to the rear up to 1.7m deep. A bank of unquarried material, 7m wide and 1.7m
high, extends east-west, parallel to the northern bank. This forms a wide
platform on which the stone foundations of a circular prehistoric building are
situated, the doorway of this building fronts directly onto the scooped area
to the north. The foundations of another building are evident in the north
west corner of the enclosure.
The southern end of the settlement shows evidence of a later phase of
development. The rectangular enclosure has been overlain by a roughly
circular enclosure 40m in diameter. The interior of this enclosure had been
terraced into the hillside and the upcast from this used to enhance the outer
perimeter so that the interior is enclosed within banks up to 1.5m high. A
raised platform of ground along the southern edge contains the stone
foundations of three circular prehistoric houses up to 10m in diameter.
Immediately to the north of these the ground has been scooped away and
subdivided by internal banks into three courtyards. The entrances to the
houses face directly onto these courtyards. A further two scooped areas lie
immediately to the east, these form a pair of courtyards with an associated
stone founded house situated on platforms of higher ground above each of them.
The fence to the north of the Iron Age defended settlement, which encloses the
conifer plantation, is not included in the scheduling, but the ground beneath
it 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

In Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlement dating to the
Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non-defensive,
enclosed homesteads or farms. In much of Northumberland, especially in the
Cheviots, the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Further south a
rectangular form was more common. Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish
border, another type occurs where the settlement enclosure was scooped into
the hillslope. 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.
Homesteads normally had only one or two houses, but larger enclosures could
contain as many as six. 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. The survival of droveways and trackways of
prehistoric date is less common and can provide evidence of communication
between individual settlements and can link occupation areas with their fields
and areas of pasture. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact
will normally be identified as nationally important.

The Iron Age defended settlement, Romano-British settlement and associated
trackways are well preserved examples of their types. The east-west running
trackway is partly waterlogged and has the potential to contain valuable
environmental evidence. Taken together, the Iron Age and Romano-British
settlements and trackways provide an insight into developing patterns of
settlement and land use through time. The monument is situated within an area
of clustered archaeological sites of very high quality and forms part of a
wider archaeological landscape. It will provide a valuable contribution to
the study of the wider settlement pattern during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in A note on scooped enclosures in Northumberland, , Vol. 40, (1962), 54
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. XLIII, (1965), 64

Source: Historic England

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