Univallate hillfort in Oxhill Plantation, 450m north-east of Great Swinburne


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011408

Date first listed: 15-Apr-1994


Ordnance survey map of Univallate hillfort in Oxhill Plantation, 450m north-east of Great Swinburne
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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 93997 75744

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 in Oxhill Plantation survives in a reasonable condition. Despite the fact that it has suffered some damage from afforestation, significant archaeological deposits will survive undisturbed. Its importance is enhanced by the survival of contemporary settlements in the vicinity which will add to our knowledge of the nature and extent of prehistoric settlement and activity in the region.


The monument includes a hillfort of Iron Age date situated on the summit of Oxhill. The situation provides a naturally defended position with steep slopes falling away on three sides. The irregularly shaped enclosure is formed by a single rampart encircling the top of the hill; the area enclosed by the rampart measures a maximum of 65m east to west by 55m north to south. The surrounding rampart is now rather fragmentary but can be traced around the perimeter as a low stony bank, best preserved on the north-west and south-east sides where it is 0.8m high and 2m wide. An entrance through the rampart is visible at the south-eastern corner of the enclosure. Within the hillfort, to the south-west of centre, there are two circular hollow areas 10m and 6.5m in diameter representing the footings of two circular buildings. Around the less well defended south side of the enclosure there are traces of a possible ditch 1.3m across; additionally, a low bank, 1.5m across, runs in a south-easterly direction from the south-eastern corner of the enclosure wall for 10m before it disappears beneath later medieval cultivation. The wall which forms the southern limit of the protected area is not included in the scheduling.

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: 20937

Legacy System: RSM


No. 5448,

End of official listing