Ancient Monuments

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Hasting Hill cursus and causewayed enclosure, 600m south of Hasting Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in St Chad's, Sunderland

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Latitude: 54.8779 / 54°52'40"N

Longitude: -1.4475 / 1°26'51"W

OS Eastings: 435547.693287

OS Northings: 553823.468479

OS Grid: NZ355538

Mapcode National: GBR V1W.VZ

Mapcode Global: WHD5B.QNXC

Entry Name: Hasting Hill cursus and causewayed enclosure, 600m south of Hasting Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 10 December 1976

Last Amended: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016977

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32070

County: Sunderland

Electoral Ward/Division: St Chad's

Built-Up Area: Sunderland

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Herrington, Penshaw and Shiney Row

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes a cursus, causewayed enclosure and round barrows which
have been identified through aerial photography, lying 600m south of Hasting
Hill Farm. No upstanding earthwork remains of these survive but the evidence
of aerial photography and limited excavation have confirmed that significant
remains survive beneath the present ground surface. Sections of the ditches of
both the cursus and causewayed enclosure were excavated by the Department of
Archaeology, University of Durham in 1980. The cursus is orientated north-
south. At its northern terminus the cursus is 47m wide and is defined by a 1m
wide, asymmetrical `V' shaped ditch, which was 0.4m deep. The southern
terminus has not been identified, but the cursus is at least 400m long. The
causewayed enclosure lies 10m north west of the northern terminus of the
cursus. It is an irregular oval, 92m by 65m, with its long axis orientated
north west-south east defined by a 1m-2.2m wide ditch, which is 0.2m-0.3m
deep. It has entrances in the north west and south east perimeter of the
enclosure. One of the round barrows, which is 9m in diameter, is on the
eastern perimeter of the enclosure. The other round barrow ditches are located
just east of the cursus, 400m south of the causewayed enclosure. One of these
has been measured at 20m-22m diameter. The cursus, causewayed enclosure and
round barrows are interpreted as being of Neolithic date.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A cursus is an elongated rectilinear earthwork, the length of which is
normally greater than 250m and more than ten times its width. The sides are
usually defined by a bank and external ditch, but occasionally by a line of
closely set pits. The two long sides run roughly parallel and may incorporate
earlier monuments of other classes. Access to the interior was restricted to a
small number of entranceways, usually near the ends of the long sides.
Cursus monuments vary enormously in length, from 250m at the lower end of the
range up to 5.6km in the case of the Dorset Cursus. The width is normally in
the range 20m to 60m. The greatest variations in the ground plan occur at the
terminals, with a variety of both round ended and square ended examples
recorded. Dateable finds from cursus monuments are few. Early Neolithic
pottery has been found in the primary fill of some ditches, but there is also
evidence of construction in the Late Neolithic period.
There are indications re-cutting or extending of the ditches at some sites and
the distribution of monuments of later periods often respects cursus monuments
demonstrating their continued recognition through time. Taken together, these
features indicate construction and use over a long period of time.
Cursus monuments have been interpreted in various ways since their initial
identification. The name itself is the Latin term for race track and this was
one of the functions suggested by Stukeley in the 18th century. More recently
a ritual or ceremonial role has been suggested.
Of the 40 or so examples recorded nationally, most are widely scattered across
central and eastern England, though the distribution extends to northern
counties. The majority lie on the flat, well drained gravel terraces of major
river valleys, but a number are known on the chalk downlands of Dorset and
As one of the few known classes of Neolithic monument, and due to their
comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument
type, all cursus monuments are considered to be nationally important.

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in
southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500
years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also
continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to
70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including
settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all
comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric
rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives
its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated
causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to
survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the
few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity
of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered
to be nationally important.
Round barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to
the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC.
They were constructed as earthern or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which
covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped
as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often
superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit
regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are
over 10,000 surviving barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been
destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying
prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape
and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type
provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social
organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly
representative of their period and a substantila proportion of surviving
examples are considered worthy of protection.
Hasting Hill cursus and causewayed enclosure is unique in the north east of
England. Despite disturbance from recent cultivation, the survival of features
and deposits has been shown through excavation, and important information on
the cursus, enclosure and round barrows regarding their form, history and
relation to each other will be preserved beneath the present ground surface.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Harding, A F, Hasting Hill, 1980, (1980)
Horne, PD, Possible Neolithic Enclosure and Cursus Monument at Hasting Hill, (1998)
Horne, PD, Possible Neolithic Enclosure and Cursus Monument at Hasting Hill, (1998)
Horne, PD, Possible Neolithic Enclosure and Cursus Monument at Hasting Hill, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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