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Enclosed native settlements, cultivation terraces and cairn field south west of Mounthooly

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.495 / 55°29'41"N

Longitude: -2.1922 / 2°11'31"W

OS Eastings: 387955.132572

OS Northings: 622367.952128

OS Grid: NT879223

Mapcode National: GBR F44X.61

Mapcode Global: WH9ZT.94BT

Entry Name: Enclosed native settlements, cultivation terraces and cairn field south west of Mounthooly

Scheduled Date: 12 June 1973

Last Amended: 15 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015647

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24593

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 two Roman period native settlements set
within a series of cultivation terraces and an associated cairn field. The
site is situated on the lower east slopes of The Schil and c.100m west of the
College Burn.
The northernmost settlement consists of a roughly square area, 50m by 50m,
enclosed within a double bank. The banks survive to a maximum height of 1m
and are up to 4m wide, they are separated by a ditch 8m wide. A small section
of the northern bank lies beneath the Mounthooly forestry plantation. There is
an entrance, 3m wide, in the south east side of the enclosure. The foundations
of a rectangular structure are visible adjacent to the entrance. Within the
interior, the circular stone foundations of two prehistoric buildings, 9m and
6.5m in diameter, are visible. A track, or holloway, up to 10m wide, extends
from the entrance of the enclosure downhill towards the College Burn for a
length of c.100m.
Approximately 130m to the south of the northern enclosure are the remains of a
second settlement. This consists of an oval scooped enclosure, 35m north-south
by 45m east-west. It is enclosed within a single earth and rubble bank, 6m
wide and up to 0.75m high, a small section of the bank on the west side lies
within the forestry plantation of Long Cleugh to the south. There is an
entrance on the eastern, downslope side. The rear of the enclosure is scooped
into the hillside to a depth of 3m to create an upper terrace of level ground.
Raised platforms bearing the remains of the circular stone foundations of two
prehistoric buildings, with internal diameters of up to 7m, are visible on
this terrace. Below the terrace is a forecourt within which are the remains of
a relatively modern sheep stall which partially overlies the east bank of the
enclosure. A small stream now runs through the interior of the settlement. A
rubble bank runs from the eastern edge of the enclosure, downslope for a
length of c.70m. A small annexe, 8m by 6m, is attached to the exterior of the
enclosure at the north west corner. This is also slightly scooped into the
hillside and is enclosed by a rubble bank, 1m wide and up to 0.3m high.
A curving rubble bank, up to 3m wide, abuts the north west corner of the
southernmost settlement. This bank extends northwards for c.12m, then turns
westward to run uphill for c.20m before resuming a northwards course, parallel
to the contour of the hill. It extends as far as the Mounthooly forestry
plantation, beyond this it is not visible due to afforestation and is not
included in the scheduling. An entrance, 2m wide, occurs in the bank
approximately 35m north of its most southerly point. The remains of a
second bank, 2m wide and c0.10m high, abuts the southern edge of this
entrance on the west side of the main bank. This bank extends westward up the
slope for c.80m.
The land surrounding the two settlements is divided into two areas of
cultivation and an area of uncleared and uncultivated land on which the
remains of clearance cairns are visible. The cultivated land covers most of
the lower slope of the hillside to the east of the main north-south bank and
all of the hillslope to the north of the east-west bank. It extends as far
west as the modern field boundary and northwards into the Mounthooly
plantation, where any remains are obscured by afforestation. The cultivated
area consists of broad terraces cut into the hillslope, ranging between 3m and
7m apart. A series of terraces to the west of the main bank have stone
revetted faces. The uncultivated land to the south of the east-west bank is is
extremely stony and contains the remains of a number of small, circular stone
cairns which would appear to represent stone clearance from the terraced area.
The cairns range in diameter from 1.5m to 10m in diameter and appear to
represent agricultural clearance, almost certainly from the cultivation
terraces to the north.
The northern edge of the northern enclosure and the southern edge of the
southern enclosure both extend into areas of afforestation and both these
areas are included within the scheduling. The post and wire fences which cross
the edges of these two enclosures are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements
dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non-
defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone
construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also
common. 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. At these sites up to 30 houses may be
found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form
and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known.
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. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally common,
although there they can frequently only be located through aerial photography.
All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be
identified as nationally important.

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one
another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone
cleared from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture,
and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots.
However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without
excavation it may be impossible to determine whether cairns contain burials.
Cairnfields and cultivation terraces provide important information on the
development of land use and agricultural practices. They also retain
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the
prehistoric period.
The enclosed native settlements, cultivation terraces and cairnfield to the
south west of Mounthooly are very well preserved examples of their type. The
site is situated within an area of broadly contemporary settlements and field
systems of very high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological
landscape. It will contribute significantly to our understanding of the
organisation and development of settlement and land use during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Archaeology Section, Tyne, Wear Museums, , College Valley Survey: Mounthooly, (1994), 11-12
Archaeology Section, Tyne, Wear Museums, , College Valley Survey: Mounthooly, (1994), 11-12

Source: Historic England

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