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Defended settlement on north slope of Harehope Hill, 570m south east of High Akled Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Akeld, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.5541 / 55°33'14"N

Longitude: -2.0657 / 2°3'56"W

OS Eastings: 395950.505746

OS Northings: 628937.548789

OS Grid: NT959289

Mapcode National: GBR G406.KT

Mapcode Global: WH9ZH.7NKH

Entry Name: Defended settlement on north slope of Harehope Hill, 570m south east of High Akled Cottages

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Last Amended: 15 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015636

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24663

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Akeld

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

This monument includes a bivallate defended settlement of a type constructed
during the Early Iron Age in Northern Britain. The enclosure is contained
within two concentric banks of earth and stone. The interior contains the
remains of internal divisions and the stone foundations of prehistoric
buildings.
The site lies on a sloping plateau on the north slope of Harehope Hill. The
ground slopes away steeply to the north, providing extensive views over the
Milfield Plain. The site is protected by a steep gully to the east, but there
are no natural defences to west or south. The settlement comprises an
irregular shaped area of c.0.35ha enclosed within a double rampart, the whole
monument extends over c.0.8ha. The ramparts are constructed of large boulders
with a core of smaller stone. Massive boulder kerbstones are clearly visible
on both the interior and exterior faces of both the ramparts. The outer
rampart is up to 3m wide and up to 1.5m high, with a simple entrance, 3m wide,
to the north west through which the modern pathway passes. There are slight
traces of an external ditch, 3m wide and up to 0.5m deep, on the south west
side. On the east side the rampart has tumbled slightly down the steep slope
of the gorge and rampart material is visible for a distance of 3m from the
outer edge. The inner rampart is concentric to the outer rampart and lies at a
distance of c.5m, except on the north west side where they diverge slightly to
enclose a wider apron of land c.8m wide. Part of the area between the inner
and outer rampart on the northern side is filled with large tumbled boulders.
The inner rampart is up to 3m wide and up to 2m high, on the north side the
natural slope has been artificially scarped to form the rampart. The entrance
is also on the north west side and is 1.5m wide. The interior of the enclosure
measures c.50m by 70m. The southern edge of the enclosure has been scooped
into the hillslope to a depth of c.2m and the stone foundations of a
prehistoric building, 5m in diameter, lie within this scooped area. An
internal enclosure is situated in the north west of the interior and encloses
the area around the entrance. This enclosure is defined by a bank up to 0.3m
high and 2.5m wide. It has been scooped into the hillslope along the southern
edge and built up and revetted on the northern edge to form a level platform
18m by 14m. Immediately to the north of this enclosure are the sub-circular
stone foundations of possibly another prehistoric building; within the centre
of this is a large irregular orthostat which has been placed within a
rectangular pit, smaller stones have been wedged into the pit around the base
of the orthostat. The remains of a further enclosure, 9m by 8m, lies
immediately to the east of this and is defined by a bank with massive kerb
stones.

MAP EXTRACT
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
importance.

The defended settlement on the north slope of Harehope Hill is a well
preserved example of a Northern prehistoric defended settlement. The earthwork
defences survive well and the central settlement area remains intact with the
ground plan of scoops, stone founded hut circles and banks clearly visible.
The site is situated within a general area of clustered archaeological sites
of high quality and therefore forms part of a wider archaeological landscape.
As such it will contribute significantly to the study of the wider settlement
pattern during this period.

Source: Historic England

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