Sinkside Hill defended settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009529

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 17-Jun-1994


Ordnance survey map of Sinkside Hill defended settlement
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kirknewton


National Grid Reference: NT 88418 26290


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

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 settlement on Sinkside Hill is a well preserved example of a northern prehistoric defended settlement. The full circuit of the defences is still clearly visible and evidence suggests the interior contains significant remains of occupation possibly spanning a considerable period of time. The proximity of the site to a number of other broadly contemporary settlements will contribute significantly to our understanding of the organisation and development of land use during this period.


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


This monument includes a defended settlement of a type constructed during the Early Iron Age in northern Britain. The hilltop settlement is situated in a naturally defensible position and is enclosed by a broad stone rampart. The interior contains the traces of timber and stone-founded prehistoric buildings and the remains of internal banks. The south east circuit is currently overlain by a modern sheep stell.

The site lies on a high spur commanding views over the valleys of the College Burn to the east and the Trowup Burn to the north. The settlement comprises a sub-circular area of c.0.85ha entirely enclosed by a stone rampart up to 3.5m wide. The rampart now consists mostly of the core material. A simple gap entrance, 3m wide and defined by large upstanding boulders, is clearly visible in the north west circuit.

In the interior traces of the foundations for timber and stone built prehistoric buildings, scoops and internal dividing walls were clearly visible and surveyed in 1965. The tussocky nature of the interior resulting from subsequent lack of grazing means that these features are now difficult to discern although undoubtedly still present. The modern sheep stell in the south east corner overlies the outer circuit of the rampart wall and is constructed from stone taken from the rampart.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 24583

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 43, (1965), 50

End of official listing