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Unenclosed hut circle settlement and part of a field system, 880m north of Heddon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Ilderton, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.4844 / 55°29'3"N

Longitude: -1.9927 / 1°59'33"W

OS Eastings: 400556.485372

OS Northings: 621173.382784

OS Grid: NU005211

Mapcode National: GBR G5J0.CT

Mapcode Global: WH9ZX.CD9Y

Entry Name: Unenclosed hut circle settlement and part of a field system, 880m north of Heddon Hill

Scheduled Date: 8 June 1972

Last Amended: 7 August 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019931

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34231

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of a settlement and part of a field system
of prehistoric date situated on the north east slopes of Heddon Hill with wide
views to the north and east. Additional archaeological sites to the north west
and south are the subject of separate schedulings.
The settlement comprises five circular house platforms each cut into the
natural slope of the hill on the west side and formed by a raised earthwork
platform on the east side. The westernmost house platform is visible as a
circular enclosure 14.5m in diameter overall enclosed by a bank which stands
to a maximum height of 0.1m with an entrance on the east side. The interior of
the enclosure is scooped into the natural slope of the hill to a depth of
1.6m, and there is a raised platform 0.4m high on the opposite side facing
away from the slope. On the north side of the enclosure is an annexe visible
as a sub-rectangular plot, 29m north to south and open to the east, with a
spread bank 0.3m high on the west side and a lynchet along the north side.
To the east, down the slope of the hill, lie four further house platforms all
visible as levelled platforms cut into the natural slope of the hill. Of the
two northernmost house platforms, the western one measures 9m in diameter and
is scooped to a depth of 1m with a platform 0.3m high on the downhill side.
The eastern one is oriented east to west and measures 11m by 9m with a scoop
1m deep and a shallow platform on the downhill side above a natural scarp.
Between these two house platforms lies a small enclosure of roughly triangular
shape, 7m across within a bank 1.5m wide and 0.1m high. There is an entrance
through the east side which is marked by two large boulders. Within the
enclosure is a circular scoop 3m across and 0.4m deep. Of the two southernmost
house platforms, the western one measures 9m in diameter within a bank 2m wide
around the north and south sides. The interior is scooped to a depth of 1.5m.
About 18m to the east lies the fifth house platform, oriented north to south,
which is visible as an oval enclosure 11m by 7m. The interior is scooped to a
maximum depth of 1.3m with a sharply defined platform 1m high on the downslope
side with boulders visible in its outer edge. Within the enclosure is an `L-
shaped' feature 0.4m wide and 0.1m high which is thought to be a hearth.
Outside the enclosure, above the scooped edge, is a mound 3.5m by 1m which
stands 0.2m high and is thought to be spoil from the interior.
About 11m south west of the westernmost hut platform lies a square platform 5m
across and 0.5m high partially terraced into the hillside. Three large
boulders lie against the downhill edge, and two large boulders are positioned
on the top of the platform. The exact function of the platform is uncertain
although it is thought to be related to the settlement and is therefore
included in the scheduling.
A field system located on the higher level ground to the south and west is
associated with the settlement. This is visible as low banks of earth and
stone 2m wide and a maximum of 0.1m high, and lynchets 0.2m high. The banks
are a maximum 100m long. At least four roughly rectangular fields have been
created by other shorter banks which meet these long linear banks at right
angles. A number of smaller features are also visible within the fields, these
include a D-shaped enclosure, oriented east to west, which measures 15m by 16m
within a bank 1m wide. Although visible as slight earthworks on the ground the
field system is most clearly visible on aerial photographs. The field system
and associated features are included in the scheduling.

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.

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 monuments; the number of individual fields varies
from two to 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. The fields were the primary unit of production in
a mixed farming economy incorporating pastoral, arable and horticultural
elements. As a rare monument type 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 unenclosed hut circle settlement and part of a field system, 880m north of
Heddon Hill are well-preserved and will provide evidence for the nature of
prehistoric settlement and agriculture in the area. The interior of the hut
platforms, which are protected by a layer of peaty soil, will provide evidence
of domestic activity at this time and can be expected to preserve organic and
environmental evidence for their construction and use.
The settlement and field system are part of a wider group of well-preserved
archaeological sites on Heddon Hill which are the subject of separate
schedulings and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use during
this period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Museum of Antiquities, Gates, T, NU/0021/A-B, (1985)
NU 02 SW 15,

Source: Historic England

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