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Two prehistoric enclosures, field clearance cairns and unenclosed hut circle settlement north of Hart Heugh, 600m south west of Wooler Common

A Scheduled Monument in Wooler, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.5281 / 55°31'40"N

Longitude: -2.0505 / 2°3'1"W

OS Eastings: 396910.556702

OS Northings: 626036.036348

OS Grid: NT969260

Mapcode National: GBR G43J.W5

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.G9TZ

Entry Name: Two prehistoric enclosures, field clearance cairns and unenclosed hut circle settlement north of Hart Heugh, 600m south west of Wooler Common

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1964

Last Amended: 15 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018442

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31717

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of a prehistoric settlement and field system
located on the northern shoulder of Hart Heugh. The settlement comprises four
hut circles and the field system comprises two irregular enclosures and three
clearance cairns. The remains survive as upstanding earthworks. The monument
is divided into two areas of protection.
The western part of the monument includes an irregular sub-rectangular
enclosure 30m by 40m defined by a bank 2m wide which stands between 0.2m and
0.3m high. There is an entrance 1.5m wide on the east and a small annexe about
9m square abuts the western bank. To the west of the enclosure are three field
clearance cairns, on average about 3m in diameter and up to 0.25m high. To the
west of the cairns, around the southern edge of the monument, are four hut
circles which measure between 5m and 7m in diameter. The eastern part of the
monument comprises the second irregular enclosure, roughly oval in shape,
which measures 15m by 30m. It is defined by a sinuous bank of earth and stone,
similar in nature to the first enclosure. At the south west end the enclosure
is cut into the hillslope and the bank forms a stone revetted edge.
The post and wire fence which crosses the easternmost enclosure is excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath this feature is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Within the landscape of upland Northern England there are many discrete 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.
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.
The prehistoric unenclosed settlement and field system on the northern
slopes of Hart Heugh are well preserved and retain significant archaeological
deposits. They form part of a group of broadly contemporary monuments located
on Hart Heugh and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use
patterns at this time.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Gates, T, NT/9726/A, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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