Ancient Monuments

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Unenclosed hut circle settlement and field plots east of Rackside, 450m south west of Cowboy's Cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Ilderton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4981 / 55°29'53"N

Longitude: -2.0327 / 2°1'57"W

OS Eastings: 398030.284798

OS Northings: 622698.439667

OS Grid: NT980226

Mapcode National: GBR G47V.QX

Mapcode Global: WH9ZW.R27F

Entry Name: Unenclosed hut circle settlement and field plots east of Rackside, 450m south west of Cowboy's Cairn

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016709

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31720

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 the remains of an unenclosed hut circle settlement and
associated field plots of prehistoric date. It is located on natural terracing
on the east facing hillslope below a rock outcrop known as Rackside. The
monument is divided into two separate areas. The northern part of the monument
includes two hut circles between 9m and 10m in diameter with enclosing walls
up to 0.3m high. The most northerly hut circle has kerb stones visible around
its outer edge and is associated with a slight field bank up to 0.5m high. The
southern hut circle has an adjoining field plot of irregular shape defined by
a sinuous bank up to 0.2m high. A possible third hut circle lies 15m to the
east of the southern hut circle. The southern part of the monument includes a
hut circle, 9m in diameter, with a raised interior and enclosing wall up to
0.5m high. Immediately to the west is an area of ground, measuring 10m by 14m
and of smooth appearance, which has been interpreted elsewhere in the Cheviots
as an area prepared for cultivation; it is defined on the southern edge by a
line of large boulders. At the southern end of the monument there is a `D'-
shaped enclosure with a possible double hut circle adjoining it. This appears
to have been remodelled at a later date to form a loosely constructed
irregular oval enclosure or pen.
All post and wire fences which cross the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

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.

The prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field plots near Rackside
are well preserved and, despite some damage caused by a fence line, retain
significant archaeological deposits. Their importance is enhanced by their
location within an area of clustered sites whose archaeological remains
survive well in the northern Cheviots. They form part of a wider
archaeological landscape and will provide important information for any study
of the land use and settlement patterns in the Cheviots at this time.

Source: Historic England

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