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Bronze Age field system on Fredden Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Akeld, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.537 / 55°32'13"N

Longitude: -2.0813 / 2°4'52"W

OS Eastings: 394967.206139

OS Northings: 627028.349554

OS Grid: NT949270

Mapcode National: GBR F4XD.6Z

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.0364

Entry Name: Bronze Age field system on Fredden Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 April 1978

Last Amended: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018023

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29345

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Akeld

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Wooler St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a Bronze Age field system, comprising a
cairnfield, enclosure and embanked area, situated on the western shoulder of
Fredden Hill. The ground slopes gently to the north and south and, to the
north, overlooks a deep valley called The Trows at the head of the Humbleton
Burn. The monument is divided into two areas of protection separated by a
modern track and an area of forestry.
The area of protection to the north includes an extensive cairnfield, an
irregular enclosure and a sinuous bank. The cairnfield contains up to 80
cairns and includes a mixture of field clearance and burial cairns; in one of
the cairns the remains of a cist have been noted in the past. The cairns
measure up to 5m in diameter and stand up to 0.75m high. Towards the southern
edge of the cairnfield there is a group of 15 cairns which are interpreted as
burial cairns; some retain evidence of a surrounding kerb and they measure an
average of 3m in diameter and stand up to 0.6m high. Around the south and west
sides of these cairns a sinuous bank, 2m wide by 0.2m high, partially encloses
them and, although difficult to trace on the ground, is visible on aerial
photographs continuing north westwards for nearly 200m towards a forestry
plantation. Aerial photographs show that it divides the remaining part of the
cairnfield into two areas: the south western part is more densely populated
with cairns and also contains an uneven bank thought to represent the western
arc of a circular enclosure; the north eastern part is a triangular plateau
defined on two sides by deep valleys where a group of at least 20 cairns lie
slightly apart from the rest of the cairnfield. At the eastern end of this
area of protection an enclosure, defined by a bank of earth and stone 0.5m
high, measures internally 44m by 34m and has an entrance 28m wide on the north
west side. The southern part of this area is traversed by several old
trackways, visible as deep ruts, which are realignments of the Wooler to
Commonburn House road.
The second area of protection to the south includes an irregular embanked
area, defined by a bank 0.25m high, containing internal subdivisions and about
20 clearance cairns up to 7m in diameter. The wooden posts at the edge of the
southern area of the monument 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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one
another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone
cleared from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture,
and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots.
However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without
excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials.
Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC),
although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance
which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze
Age (2000-700 BC). The considerable longevity and variation in the size,
content and associations of cairnfields provide important information on the
development of land use and agricultural practices. Cairnfields also retain
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the
prehistoric period.

Within the landscape of upland Northern England there are many discreet blocks
of land enclosed by banks of stone and earth or walls of rubble and boulders,
many of which date from the Bronze Age, although earlier and later examples
also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop
growing and were sometimes sub-divided to accommodate animal shelters and hut
circle settlements for farmers or herders. The size and form of enclosures may
therefore vary considerably, depending on their particular function. Their
variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classes
provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and
farming practices among prehistoric communities. They are highly
representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving
examples are worthy of protection.
The Bronze Age field system on Fredden Hill is well preserved and retains
significant archaeological deposits. Although a small part of the monument has
been disturbed by former trackways, a significant part of the monument remains
undisturbed. Its importance is enhanced by the presence of other broadly
contemporary settlement and field system remains nearby and forms part of a
wider landscape of archaeological sites in the north Cheviots whose remains
are well preserved. It will contribute to any study of land use at this time.

Source: Historic England


Gates, T, NT/9526/F-G, (1985)
NT 92 NE 78,
NT 92 NW 82,

Source: Historic England

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