North Black Hagg defended settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010336

Date first listed: 21-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of North Black Hagg 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 88360 25042


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.

North Black Hagg is a well preserved example of a northern prehistoric defended settlement. The full circuit of the two ramparts and traces of stone and timber building foundations are clearly visible. Several other equally well preserved settlements of broadly similar date lie in this area. Together they 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 site is the most southerly of a linear series of defended settlements which extended along the west side of the College Valley. It is situated on a prominent summit which is enclosed by two concentric stone ramparts. Traces of several scooped platforms for timber-founded prehistoric buildings are visible in the interior. The exterior face of the rampart is abutted by the foundations of secondary prehistoric stone buildings. The site is located on the north east shoulder of Blackhaggs Rigg overlooking the steep western slopes of the College Valley. The settlement commands extensive views along the valley to the north and south, although the view to the south west is restricted by rising ground. The settlement comprises an oval area of c.0.5ha enclosed by two ramparts on all sides except the east, where a very steep, scree covered slope is incorporated into the defences. The defences on the south side have been further strengthened by the artificial enhancement of a natural slope to provide additional protection. The ramparts themselves, which mostly survive as core material, are up to 6m wide and 2m high. A single entrance 4m wide cuts obliquely through the eastern defences. The approach to the entrance is slightly terraced into the natural slope. The interior of the site contains at least four scooped platforms, up to 12m in diameter and 0.6m deep. These are ranged around the western edge of the interior and would have provided a level foundation for timber buildings. The circular stone foundations of two secondary prehistoric buildings, up to 7m in diameter and up to 0.3m high, abut the outer rampart on the south west side. Traces of three linear walls overlie the northern part of the interior, these appear to be the remains of a sheep stell which has subsequently been replaced by the more recent stell overlying the northern defences. Three recent cairns have also been created along the east and south east defences. All these features are included in the monument.

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: 24591

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Topping, P, 'Northern Archaeology' in A Survey of North Black Hagg Hillfort, Northumberland, , Vol. 10, (1990), 27-28

End of official listing