Iron Age defended settlement and later Romano-British settlement on Gallow Law, 600m north of Alwinton Farm


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 Park:
National Grid Reference:
NT 92013 07110

Reasons for Designation

During the mid-prehistoric period (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.

The defended settlement on Gallow Law is reasonably well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of similar and other forms of later prehistoric settlement in the vicinity; it will contribute to any study of the wider settlement pattern at this time. The later Romano-British settlement also survives well and demonstrates the manner in which earlier sites were subsequently reused at this time.


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date occupying the summit of Gallow Law (also known as Castle Hills). It takes advantage of the natural defence afforded by steep slopes on all sides. The oval enclosure measures 140m east-west by 60m north-south within two stone ramparts which merge together in places to form a single broad bank on the southern and northern sides; the ramparts vary in size from 3m-6m wide and from 0.3m-2m high. A well preserved entrance, placed centrally through the eastern side of the enclosure gives access to the interior and there are traces of a second entrance through the west side. At the western end of the settlement an additional length of rampart, 5m wide and standing to a height of 1.5m, runs from the north west corner in a westerly direction for 70m until it reaches the steep slopes at the west end of the hill; this has the effect of isolating a low plateau outside the western end of the fort which may have served as an annex. Outside the fort, built into the lower parts of the northern slopes, there are the remains of a later Romano-British settlement which includes the remains of six circular stone houses; the houses are strung out in a line and measure on average 8m in diameter.

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:


Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiw Ncle 4 ser 11' in Proc Soc Antiw Ncle 4 ser 11, (1950), 165
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 43' in Additional Rectilinear Settlements in Northumberland, (1963), 63
NT 90 NW 16,
NT 90 NW 31,


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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