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Prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field system on Snear Hill, 700m west of the western edge of Coronation Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Ilderton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5154 / 55°30'55"N

Longitude: -2.0587 / 2°3'31"W

OS Eastings: 396391.071932

OS Northings: 624627.159073

OS Grid: NT963246

Mapcode National: GBR G42N.3Q

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.BMXP

Entry Name: Prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field system on Snear Hill, 700m west of the western edge of Coronation Wood

Scheduled Date: 15 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016243

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29315

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ilderton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ilderton St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field
system situated on a north facing hillslope near the summit of Snear Hill. A
group of at least five stone founded round houses lie below a break in the
slope on a level shelf of land and measure between 7m and 10m in diameter and
stand up to 0.2m high. North of this settlement lies an associated field
system which comprises low linear earth and stone banks up to 0.2m high, 17
clearance cairns and faint traces of cord rig cultivation, which are clearly
visible on aerial photographs. The clearance cairns are irregular in shape and
measure on average 4m in diameter, stand up to 0.5m high and are aligned
roughly east west along the edge of a block of cord rig. The associated field
banks are in part respected by the cord rig and in places overlain by it,
indicating at least two phases of cultivation. Fifty metres to the north east
of this field system are a pair of clearance cairns and further to the north
east is a group of 13 cairns. Amongst these clearance cairns lie the remains
of two probable burial cairns which survive as rings of stone 8m in diameter
and up to 0.1m high with a slight central hollow. On the eastern margin of the
clearance cairns lie two platforms, c.5m in diameter, scooped into the
hillslope and which are interpreted as house platforms. The post and wire
fences along the north and east sides of the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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

Unenclosed hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric
farmers. The hut circles take a variety of forms. Some are stone based and are
visible as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Others were
timber constructions and only the shallow groove in which the timber uprights
used in the wall construction stood can now be identified; this may survive as
a slight earthwork feature or may be visible on aerial photographs. Some can
only be identified by the artificial earthwork platforms created as level
stances for the houses. The number of houses in a settlement varies between
one and twelve. In areas where they were constructed on hillslopes the
platforms on which the houses stood are commonly arrayed in tiers along the
contour of the slope. Several settlements have been shown to be associated
with organised field plots, the fields being defined by low stony banks or
indicated by groups of clearance cairns.
Many unenclosed settlements have been shown to date to the Bronze Age but it
is also clear that they were still being constructed and used in the Early
Iron Age. They provide an important contrast to the various types of enclosed
and defended settlements which were also being constructed and used around the
same time. Their longevity of use and their relationship with other monument
types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation
and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.

Cord rig cultivation is a form of prehistoric cultivation in which crops were
grown on narrow ridges subdivided by furrows. The average width between the
centre of the furrows is 1.4m. Cord rig is frequently arranged in fields with
formal boundaries but also occurs in smaller, irregular unenclosed plots
varying between 30 and 60 sq metres in size. It can be fragmentary or more
extensive, often extending over considerable areas and is often found in
association with a range of prehistoric settlement forms and with other types
of prehistoric field system. It generally survives as a series of slight
earthworks and is frequently first discovered on aerial photographs, but it
has also been identified by excavation as a series of ard (a simple early
wooden plough) marks beneath several parts of Hadrian's Wall. The evidence of
excavation and the study of associated monuments demonstrates that cord rig
cultivation spans the period from the Bronze Age through to the Roman period.
Cord rig cultivation is known throughout the Border areas of England and
Scotland where it is a particular feature of the upland margins. The discovery
of cord rig cultivation is of considerable importance for the analysis of
prehistoric settlement and agriculture. Less than 100 examples of cord rig
cultivation have been identified in northern England. As a rare monument type
all well preserved examples, particularly where they are immediately
associated with prehistoric or Roman settlements, will normally be identified
as nationally important.
The prehistoric settlement and field system on Snear Hill survive reasonably
well and will contain significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a
group of broadly contemporary settlements, enclosures and field systems
situated above the valley of the Harthope Burn. The settlement is situated
within an area of clustered archaeological sites of high quality and forms
part of a wider archaeological landscape. It will contribute to the study of
the wider settlement and land use pattern during this period.

Source: Historic England

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