Univallate hillfort and medieval tower, 750m East of Callaly Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011090

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1949

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Univallate hillfort and medieval tower, 750m East of Callaly Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1011090 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 09:38:48.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Callaly

National Grid Reference: NU 06028 09720


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.

The hillfort on Castle Hill is exceptionally well preserved. Its situation and the scale of its defences show that it was a settlement of some importance in the region. It will contribute to our understanding of the range and nature of prehistoric settlement in the area at this time. The good defensive nature of the site led to its re-use during the medieval period; subsequently the medieval tower was abandoned in favour of a new location at the foot and to the west of the hill. Hence the site will retain significant and largely undisturbed remains of this early medieval activity and will contribute to any study of the development of the adjacent castle.


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


The monument includes a hillfort of Iron Age date and a later medieval tower situated on Castle Hill, commanding extensive views in all directions. The irregularly shaped hillfort measures a total of 225m east to west by 115m north to south and exhibits several phases of activity. The main enclosure on the hilltop is roughly sub-rectangular in shape and is 80m east-west by 50m north-south; it is surrounded on three sides by a rock cut ditch 12-17m wide and 3m-7m deeper than the internal ground level. There is a counterscarp bank 4m wide which rises 2m-3m above the external ground level and an internal bank 3m wide and 0.8m high. The northern side of the enclosure is defended by a strongly scarped bank. Two opposing entrances in the east and west sides are carried on causeways across the ditch. Within the enclosure there are the remains of two rectangular buildings in the north-west corner. They measure 15m by 13m and 15m by 8m. These are interpreted as the remains of Old Callaly Castle known from documentary sources to have been held by Sir John Clavering in 1415. The use of the term Old Callaly suggests that the later tower, around which the present castle was built, was already standing in 1415 and that this earlier tower on Castle Hill was retained as a place of defence or a lookout. West of the main enclosure there are two contiguous annexes, the inner one defended by a bank 7m wide giving access to the second defended by a bank 4m wide. More than one period may be represented by the remains on Castle Hill and the strong ditch may be a later medieval feature associated with the medieval tower, this being constructed within the earlier defensive system. In the late 19th century several Bronze Age stone coffins were discoverd during quarrying on the north side of Castle Hill.

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


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

Legacy System number: 20973

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hope-Dodds, M , The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XIV, (1935), 527
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965), 43-44
NU 00 NE 03,

End of official listing