Ancient Monuments

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Defended settlement and Romano-British settlement on Shildon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Bywell, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.9978 / 54°59'52"N

Longitude: -1.9472 / 1°56'50"W

OS Eastings: 403473.223375

OS Northings: 567023.208245

OS Grid: NZ034670

Mapcode National: GBR GBVN.77

Mapcode Global: WHB28.2M0Z

Entry Name: Defended settlement and Romano-British settlement on Shildon Hill

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1977

Last Amended: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017729

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28568

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Bywell

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Corbridge with Halton and Newton Hall

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date and a farmstead
of Romano-British date, situated on the top of Shildon Hill and commanding
extensive views of Tynedale in all directions. The defended settlement, which
is roughly circular in shape, is largely visible as a cropmark on aerial
photographs but its western third is visible as a substantial earthwork. The
settlement measures a maximum of 90m within two ramparts and two ditches. The
upstanding remains of the settlement are visible as two ramparts with a medial
ditch. The ditch is 6m wide and 1m deep below the outer rampart which is 8m
wide and steeply scarped on its outer face. There is an entrance through the
ramparts and ditch on the western side of the settlement; this is occupied by
a hollow way which runs obliquely through it. Within the interior of the
settlement aerial photographs reveal faint traces of roughly circular
enclosures which are considered to be the remains of circular houses.
Also within the settlement there are the clear remains of a Romano-British
farmstead. The farmstead, which is rectilinear in shape with rounded corners,
is visible as a ditched enclosure on aerial photographs and its western side
can be traced as a slight earthwork. It has maximum dimensions of 60m north
east to south west by 70m north west to south east and also has an entrance
through the centre of its western side.
The stone wall which crosses the monument, the brick water tower situated at
the northern end of the monument and the fence which defines the north edge of
the quarry 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.
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

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of
different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied
in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts
built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites,
sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended
settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops,
others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of
earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate),
others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen
ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber
fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built
round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept
in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed
yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single
family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction
and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through
to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD).
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are
important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during
this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements
dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small,
non-defensive enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone
construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also
common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures
were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common.
Frequently the enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal
layout. The standard layout included one or more stone round-houses situated
towards the rear of the enclosure, facing the single entrance way. In lowland
areas these enclosures were originally common, although here they can
frequently only be located through aerial photography. All homestead sites
which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally
The defended settlement on Shildon Hill retains significant archaeological
deposits. It is one of relatively few Iron Age defended enclosures in the Tyne
Valley which will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of lowland
Iron Age settlement in this area. Its subsequent re-occupation in the
Romano-British period enhances the importance of the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hodgson, J C , A History of Northumberland Volume 6, (1902), 88
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4th ser' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4th ser, , Vol. 11, (1950), 179
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 43, (1965), 61
CUCAP, BKC 15, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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