Ancient Monuments

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Iron Age defended settlement 740m south east of South Middleton

A Scheduled Monument in Ilderton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5014 / 55°30'5"N

Longitude: -1.9938 / 1°59'37"W

OS Eastings: 400486.305519

OS Northings: 623068.984644

OS Grid: NU004230

Mapcode National: GBR G4JT.4Q

Mapcode Global: WH9ZQ.BZSF

Entry Name: Iron Age defended settlement 740m south east of South Middleton

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1966

Last Amended: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018067

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29317

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ilderton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ilderton St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement situated on the summit
of a prominent hill called Foxes Knoll. The settlement commands a strong
position at the east end of the hill with extensive views to the north and
east. On the south west side of the settlement, running down the slope of
Foxes Knoll and up the side of a neighbouring hill, is a field bank. The Iron
Age settlement is formed by a single rampart of earth and stone following the
countour of the hill and defines an irregularly shaped enclosure which is
afforded good natural defence on the northern and eastern sides. The
enclosure, with an annexe on the west side, measures 103m WSW-ENE by 51m
north-south. The rampart measures a maximum 3m wide and stands up to 0.5m high
except where it is enhanced by the natural hillslope, and stands between 1m
and 2m high with stone facing. There is an inturned entrance in the northern
side. The interior of the settlement is divided into two areas by a bank and
raised platform 0.3m high. The eastern side contains a sub-circular platform
8m in diameter, a scooped area 9m in diameter enclosed by a slight bank and a
possible hut circle within the rampart. The western side is a sub-rectangular
enclosure with an internal dividing bank and a slightly scooped yard. Further
to the west, an annexe occupies the remaining area of the hill defined by a
bank 0.3m high. The internal divisions of the settlement have been interpreted
in the past as evidence of later, Romano-British occupation. From the south
side of the settlement a field bank, believed to be associated with the
settlement, runs down the hillside in a south westerly direction and
diagonally up the opposite hillside. A sample 64m long has been included in
the scheduling; it measures up to 1m wide by 0.5m high and is constructed of
facing stones with a rubble core.

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

The Iron Age defended settlement and prehistoric field bank are well preserved
and will retain significant archaeological deposits. The monument is situated
in a prominent position forming part of a wider archaeological landscape. As
such it will make a significant contribution to the study of the wider
settlement pattern at this time.

Source: Historic England

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