Ancient Monuments

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Spindlestone Heughs defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Easington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5988 / 55°35'55"N

Longitude: -1.7596 / 1°45'34"W

OS Eastings: 415244.94329

OS Northings: 633935.753999

OS Grid: NU152339

Mapcode National: GBR J34P.VT

Mapcode Global: WHC0K.YJ8Q

Entry Name: Spindlestone Heughs defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 18 February 1955

Last Amended: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014745

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24624

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Easington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Bamburgh St Aidan

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a defended settlement typical of sites dating to the
Iron Age. It is located on a naturally defensive position which takes
advantage of the cliff edges formed by Spindlestone Heughs to the south east.
The western edge is marked by a gully which runs from the cliff edge of the
Heughs in a north west direction.
The settlement is rectangular in shape and has two annexes on the north
and west sides, the whole measures 150m east-west by 94m north-south. The
north and west sides of the main enclosure are defined by two ramparts and the
east side by a single rampart. The ramparts are best preserved on the north
and west sides where the inner rampart measures 5m wide and stands a maximum
of 2m high. The east rampart is denuded and may be a later addition. Along the
south side the settlement is defended by the cliffs of Spindlestone Heughs.
The western annexe measures 62m north-south by a maximum of 40m east-west and
is defined by a bank 6m wide and up to 1m high. The northern annexe measures
28m north-south by 80m east-west and is less well defined than the western and
may be a secondary addition. There are two entrances into the main enclosure:
one is located on the south near the cliff edge and measures 10m wide, the
second entrance is in the west and marked by upright stones and it measures 6m
wide. A third entrance leads into the western annexe and measures 4m wide.
Internally, there is a dividing wall in the main enclosure which runs in a
north-south direction; it measures 20m long and is 4.5m wide. There are two
circular areas in the north and west parts of the main enclosures which
measure 8m in diameter and may be the remains of house sites. Other house
sites may lie buried beneath the top soil.
The chapel identified by the Ordnance Survey to the east of the defended
settlement can no longer be identified on the ground.

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 Spindlestone Heughs is in good condition and is
substantially intact. It is located on an area of coastland which has other
defended sites of various periods and will contribute towards our
understanding of settlement in this area from the Iron Age onwards.

Source: Historic England


Northumberland County Council/RCHME, NU 13 SE 2,

Source: Historic England

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