Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn and round cairn on Turf Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Alwinton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3606 / 55°21'38"N

Longitude: -2.2118 / 2°12'42"W

OS Eastings: 386670.208888

OS Northings: 607417.253112

OS Grid: NT866074

Mapcode National: GBR D6ZG.Y6

Mapcode Global: WHB0D.0J1C

Entry Name: Ring cairn and round cairn on Turf Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017725

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28562

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Alwinton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a ring cairn and a round cairn of Bronze
Age date, situated on a low coll between Through Hill and Long Hill. It is
divided into two separate areas. The elevated situation affords extensive
views to the north and south, while the ground rises to the east and west. The
ring cairn, which measures a total of 19m in diameter, is visible as a low
circular annular bank on average 2m wide and standing to a maximum of 1m high
on the south side. The annular bank encloses a central space which measures
11m in diameter and contains the remains of at least one small mound of
stones, thought to cover the remains of burials. Other small mounds visible
within the central area are thought to represent further funerary remains.
Some 36m south west of the ring cairn there is a small round cairn. The cairn,
which measures 6m in diameter, stands to a maximum height of 1m.

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

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may
be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small
uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of
England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground
level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial
photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples.
Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact
nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has
revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and
pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial
rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the
number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available
evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a
relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form,
all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological
deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.
2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or
multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined
compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch.
Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visible element in the
modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are
the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their
considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide
important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation
among early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of
their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered
worthy of protection.
The ring cairn and the round cairn on Turf Hill are well preserved and retain
significant archaeological deposits. Taken together they will add greatly to
our knowledge of the complexity of Bronze Age funerary practice.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Charlton, B, Fifty centuries of Peace and War, (1996), 28

Source: Historic England

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