Whinny Hill cairn cemetery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NU 09621 28009


Round cairn cemetery and stone circle, 568m south west of Brownridge.

Reasons for Designation

Round cairn cemeteries date to the Bronze Age and comprise groups of cairns which take the form of stone mounds constructed to cover single or multiple burials. Contemporary or later `flat'graves may lie between individual cairns. They may be associated with clearance cairns - heaps of stones cleared from the adjacent ground surface to improve its quality for agricultural activities; they may also be associated with other forms of funerary cairns including enclosed cremation cemeteries and ring cairns in which a circular low mound of stone and earth surrounds a hollow circular area which may contain burials. It may be impossible without excavation to distinguish between some burial cairns and between burial and clearance cairns. Round cairn cemeteries occur throughout most of upland Britain; their diversity and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation. Round cairn cemeteries are often found in association with other Neolithic/Early Bronze age ritual monuments such as small stone circles which comprise a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead. They are widespread throughout England although clusters are found in some areas notably in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

The prehistoric cemetery south west of Brownridge is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. Its importance is enhanced by its association with a small stone circle, which taken together will contribute greatly to our knowledge and understanding of Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual and funerary practices.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 31 May 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 large round cairn cemetery of Bronze Age date and a stone circle of Neolithic/Early Bronze Age date, situated on a north east-south west ridge-top stretching northwards from the summit of Whinny Hill. The round cairn cemetery extends across an area of approximately 25ha and contains over 200 cairns, which vary in diameter from 2.7m to 12m and in height from 0.3m to 0.9m. Amongst the smaller cairns are several larger cairns of different form. Situated towards the centre of the group is a cairn, 7m in diameter and 0.5m high surrounded by an oval stony bank measuring approximately 17m by 21m. This feature has been interpreted as an enclosed cremation cemetery. Situated south west of this, there is what is considered to be a second enclosed cremation cemetery visible as an irregular shaped enclosure surrounded by an earth and stone bank 0.4m high and approximately 11.6m in diameter. Towards the southern edge of the round cairn cemetery there are the remains of a stone circle which measures 5.3m internally and consists of four upright stones with an average height of 0.5m and the remains of a further two stone sockets surviving below ground.


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

Legacy System number:
ND 455
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:- 5542 (cairn cemetery), 5527 (enclosed cremation cemetery), 5460 (enclosed cremation cemetery), 5535 (cairn), 1382047 (stone circle)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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