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Enclosed settlement 310m south west of White Gate

A Scheduled Monument in Alnham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4046 / 55°24'16"N

Longitude: -2.0378 / 2°2'15"W

OS Eastings: 397706.493783

OS Northings: 612299.292744

OS Grid: NT977122

Mapcode National: GBR G56Y.MD

Mapcode Global: WHB08.NFV2

Entry Name: Enclosed settlement 310m south west of White Gate

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020252

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32773

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Alnham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of an enclosed
settlement of later prehistoric or Romano-British date, situated in a low
lying position on gentle south east facing slopes on the right bank of the
Coppath Burn. Such a low lying situation is unusual for a settlement of this
type. The remains of further settlements and cairns in the vicinity are the
subjects of separate schedulings.
The settlement, oriented north east to south west is visible as a roughly oval
enclosure measuring a maximum of 52m by 32m. It is enclosed by a wall of stone
and earth up to 4m wide and 0.5m high. There are two entrances about 2.5m wide
through the south eastern side of the enclosure and an entrance, 2.3m wide
through its north wall. Within the settlement, a low stone and earth wall
divides the interior into two compartments interpreted as courtyards. There
are five hut circles within the settlement. The northern compartment contains
a single round house, the southern compartment contains three round houses and
a fifth round house is situated in a gap at the west end of the internal
dividing wall. The hut circles are all of similar form and range from 4.8m to
6.3m in diameter within walls between 4m and 8m wide. Their walls stand to a
maximum height of 0.3m. All of the hut circles have entrances through their
south eastern sides which vary between 1.8m to 2m wide. A further two hut
circles are attached to the outside face of the enclosure wall of the south
courtyard and a small intra-mural cell, 6m in diameter is contained within the
north wall to the west of the entrance.

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
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.

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements
dating to the later prehistoric and Roman period have been identified. The
majority were small, non-defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many
areas they were of stone construction, although in the coastal lowlands
timber-built variants were also common. In much of Northumberland, especially
in the Cheviots, the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Further south a
rectangular form was more common. Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish
border, another type occurs where the settlement enclosure was `scooped' into
the hillslope. In north Northumberland unenclosed settlement forms have also
been identified which lack any form of enclosure wall around the stone round
houses. Usually located on gently sloping ground, these unenclosed forecourt
settlements comprise one or more round stone houses with entrances, which open
into a large stone-walled forecourt or courtyard. Frequently the enclosures
reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard layout
included one or more stone round houses situated towards the rear of the
enclosure, facing the single entranceway. In front of the houses were
pathways and small enclosed yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two
houses, but larger enclosures could contain as many as six. At some sites the
settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main
enclosure and clustered around it. At these sites up to 30 houses may be
found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form
and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known.
These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives before
and during the period of the Roman occupation and clearly their origins lie in
settlement forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads
are common throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as
well-preserved earthworks. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally
common, although there they can frequently only be located through aerial
photography. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will
normally be identified as nationally important.
The enclosed settlement 310m south west of White Gate is well-preserved and
contains highly visible evidence of habitation. The form and method of
construction of the houses will add to our knowledge of this type of
settlement and of the social organisation of its inhabitants. The survival of
intact floor levels and associated features such as hearths and pottery
vessels will inform our understanding of the nature of its occupation. The
site will retain deposits suitable for radiocarbon dating which will help to
establish a chronology for such sites in the area. Taken together with other
prehistoric/Romano-British settlements in the vicinity, it will add greatly to
our knowledge and understanding of settlement at this time.

Source: Historic England


NT91SE 20,

Source: Historic England

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