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West Hills multivallate hillfort

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: West Hills multivallate hillfort

List entry Number: 1011291


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Rothbury


District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Thropton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 26-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Oct-1993

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 20880

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

The hillfort at West Hills survives reasonably well with little sign of major disturbance. 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 outermost edge of a hill spur commanding extensive views south and west over the Coquet valley. The hillfort, roughly circular in shape, measures 50m in diameter within multiple ramparts and a medial ditch; it has total dimensions of 130m east-west by 140m north-south. There is a well preserved inner rampart standing up to 1.5m high and surrounded by a flat, broad berm ranging from 6m to 16m across. Beyond this there is a double rampart constructed of earth and stone separated by a ditch 12m across. On the north and east sides the double rampart survives to a height of 1.5 metres above the deeply hollowed ditch but it becomes less pronounced towards the southern end of the site. There are three gaps through the ramparts on the east side of the hillfort, two of which measure 33m across and appear to be associated with staggered entrances and corresponding gaps through the inner rampart: they represent the sites of original entrances. The ramparts have been totally flattened on the north-west side by cultivation at some time in the past; those on the west side are denuded by cultivation but can still be detected as slight earthworks. There are no visible traces of the houses and yards within the interior but they survive as buried features. The hillfort is truncated at its north-western corner by a field boundary, beyond which no trace of it survives. Excluded from the scheduling are the field walls which run alongside the track which dissects the hillfort on its west side, all old gateposts and the concrete drainage feature situated at the southern end of the site but the ground beneath all these features is included.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
MacLaughlan, H, Additional Notes on Roman Roads in Northumberland, (1867), 82-83
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965)
No. 2250,

National Grid Reference: NU 03793 02088


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This copy shows the entry on 23-Sep-2018 at 06:00:30.

End of official listing