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Bellshiel Law long cairn

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Bellshiel Law long cairn

List entry Number: 1009459


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Rochester


Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 18-Mar-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Mar-1994

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 20919

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 long barrows are recorded in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are considered to be nationally important.

Bellshiel Law long cairn is one of the few surviving long cairns in Northumberland and is also one of the earliest field monuments in the county. It survives well and will add greatly to our understanding of Neolithic settlement and activity in the region.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric long cairn situated 200m south-east of the summit of Bellshiel Law on the crest of a narrow ridge. The cairn, which is orientated east-west, measures 109m and varies in width from 8.8m at the western end to 15m at the broader eastern end. The mound has a maximum height of 1.6m. The north side of the mound is partially turf-covered but the remainder of its length consists entirely of bare stone. The cairn was partially excavated in 1935. Limited exploration at the eastern end uncovered part of a kerb of boulders around the bottom of the cairn and also showed that it had been constructed of large stones loosely piled at its centre with smaller stones embedded in the earth at the sides. A rock-cut pit containing a used flint tool was interpreted by the excavator as a grave. The excavations failed to find any evidence for associated ditches or internal divisions within the cairn. Earlier, in 1912, an iron spearhead discovered in the region was said to have been found at the long cairn when stones were removed from the eastern end for road building. It is likely that the spear found its way through the loose matrix of the cairn and is not associated with the original use of the monument. A stone-walled enclosure attached to the south side of the long cairn is a later feature re-using stones from the cairn.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
'Proc. Soc Antiq. Ncle 4 ser 7' in Proc. Soc Antiq. Ncle 4 ser 7, (1936), 122
Masters, L, 'Between And Beyond The Walls' in The Neolithic Long Cairns of Cumbria and Northumberland, (1984), 54-57
Newbigin, N, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 13' in Excavations on a long and round cairn on Bellshiel Law, (1935), 293-308
NT 80 SW 05,

National Grid Reference: NT 81316 01173


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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2018 at 06:58:23.

End of official listing