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
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
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
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
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.
End of official listing