Northern ring cairn on Coldsmouth Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009531

Date first listed: 19-Jan-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Northern ring cairn on Coldsmouth Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kilham


National Grid Reference: NT 85736 28271


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

Reasons for Designation

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

The northern cairn on Coldsmouth Hill is a well preserved example of a ring cairn. The stone ring bank and interior stone settings are virtually intact and, together with the central cist, clearly show the structure of a ring cairn. It is one of a series of dispersed burial mounds which occupy prominent positions in a direct line from Coldsmouth Hill to Maddie's Well. As such, it will contribute significantly towards a fuller understanding of the funerary landscape of the Bronze Age.


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


This monument includes a large Bronze Age burial cairn situated at the north end of the summit of Coldsmouth Hill. Two concentric stone banks enclose a horseshoe shaped arc of stones. At the centre of the cairn is a sunken stone box, or cist, which contained a cremation. The monument is the northernmost of two ring cairns on the top of the hill. The ground falls away steeply on all sides, affording extensive views to the north, east and west. The outer ring is formed by a bank of unbonded stones and boulders 15m, in diameter, 4m wide and up to 0.5m high. It is partly covered with turf. Within it is an inner ring of loose stones and boulders, 10m in diameter. A third inner ring, open to the north west, surrounds a central stone cist. The cist consists of stone slabs set on edge and sunk into the ground to form a stone box, 0.4m by 0.5m, and 0.3m deep. Excavations carried out in 1929 revealed that this contained cremated bone; a flint saw and a bronze dagger were found nearby. A modern cairn, c.2m high, is situated on the outer bank of the cairn on the east side.

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: 24586

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hewat Craw, J, 'Hist Berwick Natur Club' in , , Vol. 27, (1931), 379-384

End of official listing