Ancient Monuments

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Beacon and enclosure, 175m east of Mootlaw

A Scheduled Monument in Matfen, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.078 / 55°4'40"N

Longitude: -1.9842 / 1°59'3"W

OS Eastings: 401106.063212

OS Northings: 575951.014672

OS Grid: NZ011759

Mapcode National: GBR G9LQ.7G

Mapcode Global: WHB1V.HMCH

Entry Name: Beacon and enclosure, 175m east of Mootlaw

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Last Amended: 7 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015850

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28542

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Matfen

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Matfen Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a beacon platform situated within what is
considered to be a contemporary enclosure, situated on the summit of a hill
commanding extensive views northwards. The enclosure, which is irregularly
shaped within a single earthen bank 0.6m high, is also partly formed by
artificially scarped slopes on the eastern side. There is an entrance through
the south western side of the enclosure. At the western side of the enclosure
there are the remains of a stony platform 20m square, surrounded by a low
earthen bank. This feature has been interpreted as the platform of a medieval

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

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by
day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always
sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which
together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the
Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was
formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time
of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was
in decay by the mid-17th century.
Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch
or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally
set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in
the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon
types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south
west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church
Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the
south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are
recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites
are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded
examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

The beacon platform and enclosure near Mootlaw are reasonably well preserved
and retain significant archaeological deposits. The contemporary enclosure is
a particularly rare and unusual survival and will contribute to understanding
of how the beacon site operated.

Source: Historic England


NZ07NW 03,

Source: Historic England

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