Murton High Crags settlements


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1006422

Date first listed: 29-Apr-1977


Ordnance survey map of Murton High Crags settlements
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ord

National Grid Reference: NT 96471 49557


Murton High Crags defended settlement, hut-circles and enclosure.

Reasons for Designation

During the earlier Iron Age (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 importance.

Murton High Crags defended settlement, hut-circles and enclosure are reasonably well-preserved as cropmarks. Partial excavation has shown that the monument will contain archaeological deposits in features such as ditches, post-holes and the ring-grooves of hut-circles, which will inform us about the construction, use and abandonment of the monument and environmental deposits that will inform us about the use of the surrounding landscape. The monument provides insight into the character of settlement and subsistence during the Iron Age and the nature of settlement continuity in the Romano-British period.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 June 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes the remains of a defended settlement of Iron Age date, hut-circles of Iron Age and Romano-British date and an enclosure, situated on the hilltop of Murton High Crags, the crags themselves forming the steep scarp to the north west. The most westerly remains relate to the defended settlement which is preserved as a cropmark and was partially excavated between 1979 and 1983. The excavation revealed the enclosure to be sub-circular with several constructional phases commencing with a concentric rock-cut double palisade encircling the hilltop. Following the palisade phase was a sequence of construction of ramparts associated with 2 shallow ditches with the latest phases of occupation involving a large paved area and a series of superimposed hut-circles. The hut-circles, one of which lay outside of the defences of the settlement, were constructed sequentially with the earlier ones contemporary with the Iron Age defended settlement and the later ones reflecting continued settlement during the Romano-British period. Located about 250m to the ENE of the defended settlement is a second circular enclosure approximately 110m in diameter, preserved as a cropmark.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: ND 590

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape Monument No:- 3985 (defended settlement), 3981 (enclosure)

End of official listing