Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric defended settlement 500m north west of West Holme House

A Scheduled Monument in Cotherstone, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.5709 / 54°34'15"N

Longitude: -1.9636 / 1°57'48"W

OS Eastings: 402452.80104

OS Northings: 519516.417556

OS Grid: NZ024195

Mapcode National: GBR GHQL.P7

Mapcode Global: WHB4C.TC5R

Entry Name: Prehistoric defended settlement 500m north west of West Holme House

Scheduled Date: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021113

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35955

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Cotherstone

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Barnard Castle with Whorlton

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes a prehistoric defended settlement. It occupies the
end of a steep-sided spur on the north bank of the Tees, 500m north west
of West Holme House.

The settlement is enclosed by a ditch with internal and external banks.
The banks are up to 7m wide and 0.3m high. Although the banks are similar
in height and width the outer bank survives best at the south west side of
the monument whereas the inner bank is most substantial on the north side.
The ditch is up to 7m wide and 0.5m deep. There is a possible entrance on
the north side. On the south east side the outer bank lies beneath the
modern wall separating the wood from the field. The earthworks enclose an
approximately circular area about 80m in diameter. The interior of the
enclosure contains the remains of a rectangular building approximately 16m
long and 8m wide, visible as a slight, sub-rectangular depression. This is
thought to represent later occupation of the site in the early medieval
period. East of the building a series of slight parallel gullies may
represent ridge and furrow ploughing, or drainage.

An area of stony bumps and hollows overlooks the enclosure on its north
side. It is not possible to interpret these on present evidence, so they
do not form part of this scheduling.

The drystone walls and fence are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath them is included.

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

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of
different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied
in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts
built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites,
sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended
settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops,
others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of
earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate),
others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen
ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber
fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built
round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept
in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed
yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single
family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction
and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through
to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD).
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are
important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during
this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national

The prehistoric defended settlement 500m north west of West Holme House is
a particularly well-preserved example of a late prehistoric defended
settlement. It is one of a variety of sites of similar date which are
scattered down the Tees Valley, which provide evidence for the variation
in form and distribution of late prehistoric settlement, and form part of
the wider prehistoric landscape in the North Pennines. The probable reuse
of the enclosure in the early medieval period provides additional

Source: Historic England


Title: OS card NZ01NW 1
Source Date: 1954
Circular Earthwork

Source: Historic England

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