Multivallate hillfort, at Fenton Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NT 97940 35415

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance. Despite some minor truncation, the multivallate hillfort at Fenton Hill is well-preserved and a good example of the smaller type of multivallate hillfort found in the north east upland. Partial excavation has shown that the monument contains archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use, including details of the three phases of its construction. It has also been shown that there are surviving internal features that will inform us about the character of occupation of the monument.


The monument includes a multivallate Iron Age hillfort situated near the crest of a ridge overlooking the valley of the River Till to the south. The hillfort enclosure is oval in plan, measuring approximately 85m by 54m, within three ramparts with associated ditches. There are entrances through the west and north east sides. The hillfort was partially excavated in 1971 and 1972 and this work revealed that the forts defences were built in three phases. The first phase involved the construction of a palisaded enclosure in the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age. The second phase saw the construction of a univallate enclosure with a single rampart and ditch; the rampart was built from earth and stone and had a timber revetment. The last phase of construction involved the addition of the middle and outer rampart with the middle rampart being revetted and the outer rampart being a more simple earth and stone bank. The excavation also revealed that there are a number of hut circles within the interior of the hillfort and these were originally constructed with timber walls set within stone filled trenches. The boundary wall which runs around the edge of the site is excluded from the monument, although the ground beneath it is included.

SOURCES PastScape Monument No:- 3594 NMR:- NT93NE11 Northumberland HER:- 1953


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

Legacy System number:
ND 233
Legacy System:


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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