Three cross dykes on Middle Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NT 87318 12052, NT 87321 12792, NT 87403 12912

Reasons for Designation

Cross-dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross-dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well- preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dykes on Middle Hill are exceptionally well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. Cross dykes are uncommon in Northumberland and these three are particularly fine examples.


The monument includes three cross dykes of prehistoric date situated on Middle Hill. It is divided into three separate areas. The Barrow and Usway Burns define the east and western sides of Middle Hill, and two of the cross dykes have been carefully situated in order to utilize the topograpy of the hillside and demarcate the northern side of the hill from surrounding lower ground; the third cross dyke is situated at the southern end of Middle Hill. The latter is the best preserved of the dykes and runs east-west between the Barrow and the Usway Burns for 270m. The substantial bank of earth is 6m wide and stands to a height of 2m. There is a ditch 2m wide on the northern side of the bank for most of its length; however 10m west of the plantation entrance the bank makes a slight change of angle and from here the ditch runs along the southern side of the bank. The central dyke, situated at the northern end of the hill is visible for 170m running between the Barrow and the Usway Burns; its western end is best preserved where it takes the form of substantial double earthen banks with a medial ditch. However it is for the most part planted with trees and is visible as a single low bank standing to 1m high with a shallow ditch 2m wide to its north. The most northerly ditch is rather different in character to the previous two dykes: it is on average 1m high and 2m wide with a shallow ditch to its north. It is rather sinuous in nature and has clearly been re-used as a medieval or post-medieval boundary wall. The three dykes demarcated an area of land, Middle Hill, and controlled access to it. They have continued in use as parish boundaries from the Middle Ages and today demarcate an area of forestry plantation. The fence line which dissects the most northerly dyke and that which runs along the southern dyke are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


NT 81 SE 16,
NY 81 SE 16,


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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