Ancient Monuments

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Unenclosed hut circle settlement 655m south west of White Gate

A Scheduled Monument in Alnham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4031 / 55°24'11"N

Longitude: -2.043 / 2°2'34"W

OS Eastings: 397376.947001

OS Northings: 612133.144001

OS Grid: NT973121

Mapcode National: GBR G55Y.HY

Mapcode Global: WHB08.LGC7

Entry Name: Unenclosed hut circle settlement 655m south west of White Gate

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020253

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32774

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 unenclosed hut
circle settlement consisting of a single hut circle of Bronze Age date
situated on gentle south east facing slopes at the foot of High Knowes. It is
located on the edge of a bog where it commands extensive views to the south
and south east. The hut circle is visible as a slight circular enclosure with
a diameter of 7m, within a surrounding ditch 2.5m wide and a maximum of 0.4m
deep. A slight gap through the south eastern side is interpreted as an
entrance. This hut circle is thought to be contemporary with the two palisaded
settlements situated further upslope, some 450m to the north west. The hut
circle was partially excavated in 1963-4 when two small pits were discovered
within the interior containing burnt wood and bone. Several worked flints were
recovered from the excavation in addition to a fragment of prehistoric pottery
and two pieces of pottery of later prehistoric or Romano-British date.

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.

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.
Despite having been partially excavated the unenclosed settlement 655m south
west of White Gate is reasonably well-preserved. The excavation in 1963-4 was
limited in scale, and sufficient of the floor area and wall structure remain
to provide important information about the manner of its construction and the
nature and length of its occupation. The settlement is of particular
importance as it is thought to be associated with the High Knowes palisaded
settlements which contain houses of similar form. Taken together with these
and further remains of prehistoric settlements and cairns in the vicinity, it
will improve our understanding of the nature of settlement at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jobey, G, Tait, J, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Palisaded Settlements And Cairnfields At Alnham, , Vol. ser 4 44, (1966)
NT91SE 175,

Source: Historic England

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