Witchy Neuk univallate hillfort and linear boundary 600m west of Hepple Whitefield Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008873

Date first listed: 26-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Feb-1993


Ordnance survey map of Witchy Neuk univallate hillfort and linear boundary 600m west of Hepple Whitefield Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hepple


National Grid Reference: NY 98266 99217


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for between 150 and 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features include square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Witchy Neuk hillfort survives in a good state of preservation with no sign of major disturbance. It is one of several hillforts overlooking the River Coquet and will contribute to the study of later Prehistoric settlement and activity along this river valley. The survival of an associated linear earthwork is an unusual feature.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a hillfort (also known as Witchy Nick hillfort) of Iron Age date and an associated boundary situated on a rocky headland between the Swindon and Whitefield Burns. The situation was carefully chosen to utilize the end of a crag which provides natural defences on the northern side. The enclosure is D-shaped in plan and measures 90m east-west by 45m north- south within an immense single rampart and ditch. The well-preserved rampart varies in height from 1.4 to as much as 2.6m; there are clear traces in some areas of a dry stone wall revetment. The ditch is 1.8m deep and up to 6.5m wide. The slighter wall which is visible along the top of the crags at the northern end is of modern construction. The hillfort has two entrances, one at the east and one at the western end of the enclosure. Both entrances clearly display the remains of defensive mounds, or clavicula, projecting outwards; that at the western entrance is curved. There are clear traces of at least two circular houses within the enclosure at the south-eastern end. A linear earthwork bank with a ditch on its western side runs from the south-east end of the enclosure in a SSE direction for 365m; it curves to avoid the highest part of a ridge, the area now occupied by a small pond, and runs into Hall Plantation. Limited excavations of the hillfort and boundary took place in 1936; the remains of the two hut circles were uncovered inside the fort and small areas of the fort rampart and western entrance were examined. A quern for the grinding of corn and a fragment of glass from a jug were recovered from the excavations, both suggesting occupation in the Roman period. The bank of the linear boundary was shown to measure 0.8m high by 3.5m across and the ditch, V-shaped in profile, was 1.2m deep and 2.3m across. The fence lines which cross the linear boundary and the fence around Hall plantation are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 20904

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965)
Wake, T, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 16 1939' in Excavations at Witchy Neuk, Hepple, (1939)
No. 2213,

End of official listing