Ancient Monuments

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Two prehistoric hut circles and field enclosure 560m south west of Cowboy's Cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Ilderton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4961 / 55°29'45"N

Longitude: -2.0305 / 2°1'49"W

OS Eastings: 398172.412765

OS Northings: 622475.332403

OS Grid: NT981224

Mapcode National: GBR G48W.6M

Mapcode Global: WH9ZW.S39Z

Entry Name: Two prehistoric hut circles and field enclosure 560m south west of Cowboy's Cairn

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016941

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31721

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,
comprising two hut circles, and an enclosure of prehistoric date situated on
an east facing hillside. The enclosure is located on sloping ground and the
hut circles on level ground below the slope. The monument is divided into
three separate areas. The northern area includes a well preserved and
substantial hut circle, 11m in diameter, defined by a bank 0.5m high with kerb
stones visible around the outer rim and an east facing entrance. The interior
is raised above that of the outer ground surface and there is a small central
mound. The southern part of the monument includes the second hut circle, 9m in
diameter, which is defined by a more fragmented bank best preserved on the
west side where it stands up to 0.3m high. The interior of the hut circle is a
raised platform. The third area of the monument includes an irregular
enclosure situated on sloping ground and defined by a line of large stones and
a bank 0.2m high. The enclosure is subdivided into two unequal parts by a very
slight bank which runs to a small circular feature about 4m in diameter and
which is interpreted as a shelter or animal pen. The larger half of the
enclosure has a smooth appearance which has been interpreted elsewhere in the
Cheviots as an area prepared for cultivation.

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.

Within the landscape of upland Northern England there are many discreet blocks
of land enclosed by banks of stone and earth or walls of rubble and boulders,
many of which date from the Bronze Age, although earlier and later examples
also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop
growing and were sometimes sub-divided to accommodate animal shelters and hut
circle settlements for farmers or herders. The size and form of enclosures may
therefore vary considerably, depending on their particular function. Their
variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classes
provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and
farming practices among prehistoric communities. They are highly
representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving
examples are worthy of protection.
The two prehistoric hut circles and enclosure 560m south west of Cowboy's
Cairn are well preserved and 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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