Ancient Monuments

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Cross dyke and two building foundations at Copper Snout

A Scheduled Monument in Alwinton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3739 / 55°22'26"N

Longitude: -2.1745 / 2°10'28"W

OS Eastings: 389039.42107

OS Northings: 608892.487638

OS Grid: NT890088

Mapcode National: GBR F689.0F

Mapcode Global: WHB0D.K6R4

Entry Name: Cross dyke and two building foundations at Copper Snout

Scheduled Date: 13 June 1980

Last Amended: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017736

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28539

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 cross dyke and two adjoining
structures, situated astride the narrowest point of a high ridge between two
streams. The cross dyke, which is oriented east to west, consists of an
earthen bank 350m long and between 3m to 5m wide standing to a maximum height
of 0.8m. A ditch which runs parallel with the bank on its northern side is
2m to 3m wide and 0.2m deep. To the west of the track the cross dyke curves
noticeably to the north west; it does not extend down to the foot of the
steep slopes at either end, stopping abruptly immediately above the steepest
part of the slope. At the top of the ridge there is an off-set entrance
through the cross dyke, occupied by a trackway thought to be a branch of the
medieval road known as Clennell Street. The remains of two rectangular
enclosures, interpreted as the foundations of two buildings, are situated
against the south side of the cross dyke, either side of the opening. Both are
oriented east to west and have doorways through their southern walls. The
first and most westerly steading measures 12m by 4m while the second is 16m by
4.5m and is also subdivided into two rooms. The exact relationship between the
two buildings and the cross dyke is uncertain but it is thought that they may
have functioned as an integral part of the cross dyke system.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks, typically between 2.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside or parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks, as cropmarks on aerial
photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and
analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that the period of construction
of many cross dykes spanned the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age. Others
are known to have had a function in the Middle Ages; without excavation it is
difficult to determine whether this indicates reuse of earlier dykes or the
construction of new ones during the medieval period. Current information
favours the view that they were used as boundary markers, probably demarcating
some form of land allotment, although they may also have been used as
trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of
the few monument types which indicate how land was divided up, whether in the
prehistoric or medieval period. They are of considerable importance for the
analysis of contemporary settlement and land use patterns. Relatively few
examples have survived to the present day and hence all well preserved
examples will merit statutory protection.

The cross dyke at Copper Snout is well preserved and retains significant
archaeological deposits; it is one of a group of similar monuments in the
Borders of England and Scotland and it will add greatly to our understanding
of upland land division. Its association with two adjoining structures is of
particular importance as the relationship between the cross dyke and these
structures will enhance our knowledge of how the system of Border cross dykes

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The County of Roxburgh: Volume 1, (1956), 51-53
NT80NE 04,

Source: Historic England

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