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Unenclosed hut circle settlement, field system, cairnfield and cord rig cultivation immediately north west of Linhope Spout

A Scheduled Monument in Ingram, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.4494 / 55°26'57"N

Longitude: -2.0682 / 2°4'5"W

OS Eastings: 395785.112078

OS Northings: 617285.794635

OS Grid: NT957172

Mapcode National: GBR G50F.1C

Mapcode Global: WHB02.69D7

Entry Name: Unenclosed hut circle settlement, field system, cairnfield and cord rig cultivation immediately north west of Linhope Spout

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020247

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32767

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ingram

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ingram St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the known extent of the upstanding and buried remains of
an unenclosed hut circle settlement, irregular aggregate field system,
cairnfield and cord rig cultivation of Bronze Age and Iron Age date, situated
on south facing slopes above the Linhope Burn. The site is bounded by the
Dunmoor Burn to the east and the Het Burn to the west. The adjacent unenclosed
settlement and field system on Standrop Rigg are the subject of a separate
scheduling.
The unenclosed settlement is situated at high altitude and is considered to be
one of the most elevated in the county. It is visible as the remains of two
stone-founded circular houses. The first round house which occupies a central
location within the complex, is 8m in diameter within a stone and rubble bank
up to 1.4m wide and 0.5m high. An entrance 0.65m wide is visible through the
south west wall. This house was partially excavated in 1989, when several
postholes were discovered within the south west quadrant of the interior.
There was an original entrance 0.7m wide through the south wall, which had
subsequently been blocked with stone. This house is thought to be Iron Age in
date. The second roundhouse, situated about 100m north west of the first, is
visible as a circular stony platform about 5.5m across. This hut circle was
excavated in 1989 and shown to be roughly sub-oval in shape and to abut an
earlier field boundary. It is thought to be of Bronze Age date. The encircling
wall of rubble faced with stone, was 1.25m wide and stood to a height of
0.35m. There was an entrance 1m wide through the south east wall. Excavation
showed that this house had been abandoned and partially demolished towards the
end of the Bronze Age in advance of a small cairn being constructed over its
western side. This cairn is associated with a sub-oval stone setting of
uncertain function.
The unenclosed settlement is situated within an associated field system
visible as a series of irregular earthen field banks and lynchets . The field
banks are a maximum of 4m wide and stand to a maximum height of 0.7m. They
divide the area into a series of small irregular plots. One of the lynchets
situated about 0.3m south of the first hut circle was partially excavated in
1989; the lynchet was shown to have had a complex development and was thought
to bound an area of cultivation to its south. The latter cultivation was
visible as a series of marks cut into the sub soil, thought to be made by an
ard, a form of primitive wooden plough. The marks were a maximum of 0.16m
wide and 0.15m deep with a `V'-shaped profile.
The cairnfield is visible as at least 11 roughly shaped circular clearance
cairns scattered across the field system. Most of the field plots contain one
or two cairns, though no individual plot contains more than two. The cairns
vary in size from 2m to 6m across and stand to a maximum height of 0.6m. The
cairns are related to land clearance prior to agricultural activity and are
thought to be the earliest remains at the site.
An extensive system of prehistoric cultivation known as cord rig is
superimposed upon the settlement, field system and cairnfield. The cord rig
runs across the contours of the hillside and varies between 1.1m to 1.6m wide
between the centre of the furrows. It overlies several of the earlier field
boundaries and has disturbed several of the small clearance cairns indicating
that it represents a later phase in the development of the field system and is
thought to be Iron Age in date. Some areas of the cord rig are irregular in
plan with furrows which do not run parallel to the ridges and is thought to
have been hand dug with a spade. However, immediately east of the first round
house, there is an area of cultivation, which contains unusually long rigs, up
to 220m in length. These longer rigs are also slightly curving in profile
and are thought to have been created by ploughing. A section of this cord rig
cultivation was excavated in 1989; upon excavation the furrows were shown to
be about 0.4m wide and up to 0.1m deep from the crest of the ridges.
The fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features 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

In a densely settled and highly developed country such as England, the
landscapes of all but the most bleak mountain summits are, to varying degrees,
the product of centuries and millennia of human development. Except in areas
today considered to be marginal, most traces of the earliest stages in this
process have been erased or modified by later development and only survive in
a fragmentary manner. The prehistoric settlement remains that survive beyond
the margins of more recent cultivation in upland areas such as the Cheviots
provide a rare opportunity to recognise the prehistoric shape of the
landscape.
The Breamish Valley is one of the main valleys draining the Cheviot Massif.
Because of comprehensive field survey during the 1980s, it is also one of the
best recorded upland areas in England. The field evidence for human activity
within the valley is diverse and spans at least five millennia from the
Neolithic to the post-medieval period. Of particular importance are the well-
preserved and extensive upland prehistoric remains, including settlements,
field systems and cairnfields. On the enclosed land within the valley,
archaeological remains are more fragmentary, but they survive sufficiently
well to show that human activity extended below what is now open fell land.
Due to excellent state of survival, their archaeological integrity, and their
rarity in a national context, most recorded prehistoric and later monuments
within the Breamish Valley will be identified as nationally important.

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. 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.
Irregular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to
the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover large areas and comprise
a collection of contiguous field plots which are irregular in shape and size
and which accreted around a focal point, usually a settlement. Individual
fields are generally small and fall within the 0.2ha-0.6ha range and their
individual shape and size was the result of local factors such as topography
and short term agricultural requirements. The field boundaries, which follow
straight or sinuous courses, are usually dry stone walls, with lynchets being
a feature on sloping ground. Component features common to most systems include
entrances and occasionally trackways. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns
sited in close proximity to one another. They consist largely of clearance
cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding land surface to improve
its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be
seen to define field plots. 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 during the Bronze Age.
Cord rig is the term used to describe a form of prehistoric cultivation in
which crops were grown on narrow ridges subdivided by furrows. Cord rig is
frequently arranged in fields with formal boundaries but also occurs in
smaller, irregular unenclosed plots varying between 30 sq m and 60 sq m in
size. It often extends over considerable areas, and is frequently found in
association with a range of prehistoric settlement sites and with other types
of prehistoric field system. It generally survives as a series of slight
earthworks and is first discovered on aerial photographs. Cord rig cultivation
is known throughout the Border areas of England and Scotland, where it is a
particular feature of the upland margins.
Despite having been partially excavated, the unenclosed settlement immediately
north west of Linhope Spout survives reasonably well. The form and method of
construction of the houses will add to our knowledge of the nature of this
type of settlement and of the social organisation of the inhabitants. The
associated field system and cairnfield survive well and will contribute to our
understanding of the nature and longevity of small-scale clearance and
agricultural exploitation during the Bronze Age. The superimposition of fields
of cord rig rather than the more usual irregular small plots enhances the
importance of the monument. The cultivation is unusually extensive and this is
one of few known sites where ridges with an `S'-bend plan are visible. The
settlement and agricultural remains near Linhope Spout represent one of the
most elevated permanent settlements in Northumberland, and are thought to mark
the limit of Bronze Age expansion into the interior of the uplands. Taken
together with the contemporary remains on Standrop Rigg, they will add greatly
to our knowledge and understanding of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement and
agriculture.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Gates, A, 'Settlement in North Britain 1000BC - AD 1000' in Unenclosed Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 118, (1983), 103-148
Other
NT91NE 49,
NT91NE 70,
NT91NE 71,

Source: Historic England

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