Defended settlement, 400m south west of South Farm, Houghton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014076

Date first listed: 10-Mar-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Defended settlement, 400m south west of South Farm, Houghton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Heddon-on-the-Wall

National Grid Reference: NZ 12242 66567


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

Reasons for Designation

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD). Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national importance.

The defended settlement at South Farm, Houghton, is reasonably well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. There are few Iron Age enclosures in the Tyne valley and this is a valuable example of its type. Taken with the other examples it will add greatly to any study of the wider settlement pattern at this time.


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


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date on gently sloping ground set a short distance back from a rocky ridge which commands extensive views across the valley of the River Tyne. The enclosure, oval in shape, measures 104m east to west by 74m north to south within a ditch varying between 7m to 8m wide and up to 1.3m deep. The ditch is infilled with silt for much of its circuit and is most prominent on the northern side. Within the ditch there are traces of an inner rampart of stone and earth which is best preserved at the western end where it is a maximum of 6m wide and 0.3m high. Outside of the ditch fragmentary remains of a counter-scarp bank are visible on all sides but the north, where it has been levelled by the construction of the road and is best preserved at the western end. There are opposing entrances through the east and the west sides of the enclosure, carried across the ditch on causeways 3.6m wide and 4.8m wide respectively.

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: 25187

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, (1965), 64
NZ 16 NW 30,

End of official listing