Blue Crags hillfort, 730m north-west of Colwell


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011403

Date first listed: 06-Aug-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Blue Crags hillfort, 730m north-west of Colwell
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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: Chollerton

National Grid Reference: NY 94642 76088


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

Reasons for Designation

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non- defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common. Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish border, another type occurs where the settlement enclosure was `scooped' into the hillslope. Frequently the enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard layout included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of the enclosure, facing the single entranceway. In front of the houses were pathways and small enclosed yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two houses, but larger enclosures could contain as many as six. At some sites the settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main enclosure and clustered around it. At these sites up to 30 houses may be found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known. These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their origins lie in settlement forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads are common throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as well-preserved earthworks. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally common, although there they can frequently only be located through aerial photography. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally important.

Blue Crags hillfort survives well, despite the loss of the northern rampart. Limited excavation has confirmed that settlement remains within the interior of the site are extensive and well preserved. The survival of visible internal sub-divisions makes this an unusual monument which will contribute significantly to study of prehistoric/Romano-British settlement patterns in this area.


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


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age/Romano-British date situated on a rocky incline of whinstone. The main encircling rampart encloses a rectangular area measuring 192m north-west to south-east by 70m north-east to south-west. The rampart, which runs along the edge of the outcrop on the south, west and east sides, measures on average 5m across and stands to a height of over 1m; the northern rampart has been quarried away. A double wall, with an entrance through it, subsequently damaged by quarrying, divides the enclosure into two parts. The northern and largest part contains the well preserved foundations of at least 12 circular stone-walled huts measuring on average 6.5m in diameter with walls standing 0.5m high. When nine of the hut circles were examined in 1924 the finds uncovered included cupmarked stones, quernstones for the grinding of corn, whetstones and a piece of medieval pottery. The southern enclosure, which contains no visible traces of habitation, would have been used to contain stock. The settlement was given added defence by the addition of substantial ramparts at the foot of the crags on the east and west sides.

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: 20932

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ball, T, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 2 1927' in Blue Crag Promontory Fort, Colwell, Northumberland, (1927), 23-24
No. 5443,

End of official listing