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Defended settlement on Humbledon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Barnes, Sunderland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.8904 / 54°53'25"N

Longitude: -1.4093 / 1°24'33"W

OS Eastings: 437988.636416

OS Northings: 555234.826128

OS Grid: NZ379552

Mapcode National: GBR V7M.27

Mapcode Global: WHD5C.BB5S

Entry Name: Defended settlement on Humbledon Hill

Scheduled Date: 4 November 2011

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1402212

County: Sunderland

Electoral Ward/Division: Barnes

Built-Up Area: Sunderland

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Bishopwearmouth St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Durham

Summary

A defended settlement of Iron Age date which developed from a Later Bronze Age palisaded enclosure, surviving as the buried remains of its ditches and partially surviving banks.

Source: Historic England

Details

The settlement on Humbledon Hill includes the western half of a defended settlement; to the east, the settlement has been compromised by housing development, gardening activities and the construction of a Victorian reservoir. This area is not included in the scheduling, given the level of disturbance to which it has been subjected. Geophysical survey in 2003 and archaeological evaluation in 2006 and 2007 demonstrated that the defended settlement includes a roughly sub-circular enclosure measuring a maximum of 75m north east to south west by 62m north west to south east, within two ditches and a medial bank. The inner ditch is c.0.5m wide and 0.5m deep and is considered to be the remains of a palisade trench, which formerly contained a wooden fence. The outer ditch is situated about 9m outside the inner ditch and measures up to 3m wide and 1m deep. Between the two ditches there is a stone and earth bank standing to a maximum height of 0.8m interpreted as the remains of a rampart. There is an entrance through the west side of the enclosure. Two substantial, ditched features immediately outside the settlement on the south and south west sides have the same character as the outer ditch and are considered the remains of structures associated with it. Prehistoric pottery, recovered from the ditches, demonstrated that the inner ditch was dug during the later Bronze Age and the outer ditch was subsequently dug during the Iron Age. Animal bone, some of it burnt, and flint pieces were recovered from parts of the ditches. Also recovered was what was identified as the corner of a triangular loom weight of Iron Age date. Within the interior of the enclosure, there are a series of pits, each 2m in diameter and archaeological evaluation also uncovered what was thought to be the part of a Bronze Age round cairn.

Extent of Monument: The monument includes the remains of the settlement and associated ditched features with a margin of 2m around the north and east sides considered essential for their support and protection. Further remains identified by geophysical survey beyond the double-ditched enclosure are later in date and are not included in the scheduling.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

* Rarity: it is a rare survival of a lowland, coastal hillfort or defended settlement
* Potential: the archaeological information stored within this settlement will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of prehistoric settlement, economy and society.
* Survival: despite the fact that it has suffered losses, significant archaeological deposits have been demonstrated to remain at the site
* Group value: it forms part of a significant wider group of prehistoric funerary and settlement sites in the area, some of which are designated as scheduled monuments.
* Period: hillforts and defended settlements are seen as one of a relatively large range of monument classes known to characterise the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Higham, N, The Northern Counties to AD 1000, (1986), 127-129
Hale, D N, Still, D A, 'Durham Archaological Journal' in Geophysical Survey at Picktree, Chester-le-Street and Humbledon Hill, Sunderland, , Vol. 17, (2003), 1-7
Other
Gaskell, N , 'Archaeological Evaluation on Land at 24 Alpine Way, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear' , CP/558/07. NPA Ltd: Nenthead, Cumbria , 2007,
Tyne & Wear HER No 157,

Source: Historic England

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