Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric field system, cairnfield, round cairns and enclosed cremation cemetery on east slopes of Fredden Hill, 750m west of Wooler Common

A Scheduled Monument in Wooler, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5328 / 55°31'58"N

Longitude: -2.0557 / 2°3'20"W

OS Eastings: 396582.584358

OS Northings: 626564.538016

OS Grid: NT965265

Mapcode National: GBR G42G.RG

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.D6BB

Entry Name: Prehistoric field system, cairnfield, round cairns and enclosed cremation cemetery on east slopes of Fredden Hill, 750m west of Wooler Common

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018375

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31709

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Wooler

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Wooler St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a field system, cairnfield, burial cairns and enclosed
cremation cemetery of prehistoric date situated on the gentle eastern slopes
of Fredden Hill. The field system stretches for over 100m and comprises
irregular field plots defined by slight earthen banks and lynchets standing up
to 0.25m high. The fields vary in size and shape, the largest measuring about
70m by 30m. At least 20 field clearance cairns are scattered across the field
system and these are visible as turf-covered circular or linear mounds of
earth and stone between 1m and 6m in diameter or between 10m and 13m in
length. In addition, there are at least two burial cairns. The first measures
8.4m in diameter and up to 0.6m high with evidence of a kerb around the
eastern edge; it was partially excavated in 1949 by J Bainham although no
records of this event have been located. The second cairn lies 57m to the
south east of the first and measures 7m in diameter by 0.4m high; the centre
also appears to have been disturbed and is probably the result of an
unrecorded antiquarian investigation. At the northern end of the monument is a
`U'-shaped enclosure approximately 30m long and open ended to the south. It is
defined by a slight earthen bank up to 0.3m high and spread up to 2.5m wide
and is interpreted as an enclosed cremation cemetery.
The post and wire fence crossing the northern part of the monument and the
fencing around the eastern edge 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

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and
comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction,
with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one
another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can
be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The
field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves,
orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and
lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to
most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or
farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been
identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the
field system.
The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for
land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought
to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common
occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation
may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate
field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south
eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and
South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often
utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information
about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and
broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several
centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to
associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

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.
An enclosed Bronze Age urnfield is a burial ground in which cremations,
usually placed in cinerary urns, were interred within a circular enclosure up
to 30m in diameter. This was formed by either a ditch, a bank, or a bank
within a stone circle. There was normally an entrance or causeway allowing
access into the enclosure, where a central mound or standing stone is
sometimes found. Excavated examples are known to date to the Middle Bronze Age
between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. Enclosed Bronze Age urnfields are
largely found in the north of England, mainly in Yorkshire, Cumbria and
Northumberland, although their distribution also extends into Scotland. They
are a rare type of Bronze Age burial monument, with fewer than 50 identified
examples and provide an important insight into beliefs and social organisation
during this period. All positively identified examples are considered to be
nationally important.
The prehistoric field system, cairnfield, round cairns and enclosed
cremation cemetery 750m west of Wooler Common are well preserved and will
retain significant archaeological deposits. Their importance is enhanced by
the survival nearby of other broadly contemporary field systems and
cairnfields around Fredden Hill. The monument forms part of a wider
archaeological landscape in the Cheviot Hills and will contribute to any study
of settlement and land use during this preriod.

Source: Historic England

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