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Prehistoric hut circle settlement, farmstead and field system, 425m east of Burntshield Haugh

A Scheduled Monument in Hexhamshire, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.873 / 54°52'22"N

Longitude: -2.1125 / 2°6'45"W

OS Eastings: 392876.24322

OS Northings: 553140.387108

OS Grid: NY928531

Mapcode National: GBR FDP2.FZ

Mapcode Global: WHB2R.JS85

Entry Name: Prehistoric hut circle settlement, farmstead and field system, 425m east of Burntshield Haugh

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017960

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28577

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Hexhamshire

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Blanchland with Hunstanworth

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of two hut circles, a farmstead and a field
system of prehistoric date, situated on the western edge of Burntshieldhaugh
Fell, overlooking the valley of Devil's Water to the south.
The farmstead, which is partly overlain by a rectangular sheep fold, is
visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 25m north to south by 20m
east to west within walls of stone and earth 3m wide which stand to a maximum
height of 0.5m. Attached to the outside western wall of the enclosure there
are the foundations of three circular stone founded houses, each measuring
5.5m in diameter with walls standing to a maximum height of 0.3m.
A trackway leads from the western side of the enclosure down the valley side
through the western part of an associated field system which surrounds the
settlement on all sides. The field system is visible as a series of boundaries
which divide the landscape into several enclosed areas. The boundaries are of
two types; irregular, sinuous low banks, and lines of single boulders up to 2m
wide and standing to between 0.3 to 1m high. The slight traces of what are
thought to be two earlier hut circles incorporated within the field system
suggest that this settlement developed out of an earlier unenclosed Bronze Age
All fence lines which cross the monument and the stone sheepfold overlying the
farmstead 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

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.

In 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 much of Northumberland the enclosures were
curvilinear in form but 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. Infront of
the houses were pathways and small enclosed yards. At some sites the
settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main
enclosure and clustered around it. These homesteads were being constructed and
used by non-Roman natives throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their
origins lie in settlement forms developed before the arrival of the Romans.
These homesteads are common throughout the uplands where they frequently
survive as well preserved earthworks. All homestead sites which survive
substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally important.
A regular aggregate field system is a group of regularly defined fields of
prehistoric or Roman date, laid out in a block or blocks, which lie
approximately at right angles to each other, usually with a settlement as a
focal point. Fields are generally square or rectangular and the blocks give an
ordered, if irregular shape to the field system as a whole. They are
characteristically extensive monument types; the number of individual fields
varies from 2 to approximately 50, but this is, at least in part, a reflection
of bias in the archaeological record rather than the true extent of such land
divisions during their period of use, as continued land use has often
obliterated traces of the full extent of such field systems. The fields were
the primary units of production in a mixed farming economy, incorporating
pastoral, arable and horticultural elements. As rare monument types which
provide an insight into land division and agricultural practice during their
period of use all well preserved examples will normally be identified as
nationally important.
The hut circles, farmstead and associated field system near Burntshield Haugh
are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. Taken
together they will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of settlement
and agriculture in the North Pennines.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Lord Crewe Estate Archaeological Survey , (1993)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Lord Crewe Estate Archaeological Survey , (1993)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Burntshieldhaugh 2 Prehistoric settlement and field system, (1993)
Burntshieldhaugh 2, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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