Tosson Burgh univallate hillfort, 450m west of Great Tosson


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011267

Date first listed: 26-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Oct-1993


Ordnance survey map of Tosson Burgh univallate hillfort, 450m west of Great Tosson
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Whitton and Tosson


National Grid Reference: NU 02346 00481


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 Burgh Hill survives well and will retain extensive archaeological remains. It is one of several hillforts overlooking the River Coquet and it will contribute to any study of later prehistoric settlement and activity along this river valley.


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


The monument includes a hillfort of Iron Age date situated on the top of a prominent hill commanding extensive views of the Coquet valley to the north, west and east. The situation has been carefully chosen, occupying a knoll which is naturally defended on the northern and western sides by steep slopes. The enclosure is oval in shape and measures 100m east-west by 45m north-south within a single rampart, and on some sides a ditch. Slight traces of the rampart are visible on the northern side but on the better preserved south and south-western sides it survives to a height of 2m above the bottom of the ditch. The rampart has apparently been built up from the insides, in places giving the appearance of an internal ditch. On the vulnerable south and eastern sides there is a shallow ditch; the natural steep slope of the ground made this precaution unnecessary elsewhere. The main entrance is clearly visible on the southern side as a break in the ditch and a fine staggered rampart which is very well preserved. A well defined hollow way is visible leading westwards from the entrance. A gap in the western defences 2.5m across may represent another entrance and a slight lowering of the rampart at the eastern end of the enclosure with an apparent causeway across the ditch may be an original eastern entrance. There are no visible traces of internal huts or yards within the interior but they survive as buried features beneath ground level. Several prehistoric finds were reputedly found on the hillside in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including a bronze axe found on the enclosure by a workman in 1890.

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: 20878

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dixon, D D, Upper Coquetdale, (1903), 128-133
Hedley, R C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 2 ser 12' in Archaeologia Aeliana 2 ser 12, (1887), 33-36
No. 2227,

End of official listing