Spindlestone Heughs defended settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014745

Date first listed: 18-Feb-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Spindlestone Heughs defended settlement
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Easington

National Grid Reference: NU 15247 33944


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 Spindlestone Heughs is in good condition and is substantially intact. It is located on an area of coastland which has other defended sites of various periods and will contribute towards our understanding of settlement in this area from the Iron Age onwards.


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


The monument includes a defended settlement typical of sites dating to the Iron Age. It is located on a naturally defensive position which takes advantage of the cliff edges formed by Spindlestone Heughs to the south east. The western edge is marked by a gully which runs from the cliff edge of the Heughs in a north west direction. The settlement is rectangular in shape and has two annexes on the north and west sides, the whole measures 150m east-west by 94m north-south. The north and west sides of the main enclosure are defined by two ramparts and the east side by a single rampart. The ramparts are best preserved on the north and west sides where the inner rampart measures 5m wide and stands a maximum of 2m high. The east rampart is denuded and may be a later addition. Along the south side the settlement is defended by the cliffs of Spindlestone Heughs. The western annexe measures 62m north-south by a maximum of 40m east-west and is defined by a bank 6m wide and up to 1m high. The northern annexe measures 28m north-south by 80m east-west and is less well defined than the western and may be a secondary addition. There are two entrances into the main enclosure: one is located on the south near the cliff edge and measures 10m wide, the second entrance is in the west and marked by upright stones and it measures 6m wide. A third entrance leads into the western annexe and measures 4m wide. Internally, there is a dividing wall in the main enclosure which runs in a north-south direction; it measures 20m long and is 4.5m wide. There are two circular areas in the north and west parts of the main enclosures which measure 8m in diameter and may be the remains of house sites. Other house sites may lie buried beneath the top soil. The chapel identified by the Ordnance Survey to the east of the defended settlement can no longer be identified on the ground.

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: 24624

Legacy System: RSM


Northumberland County Council/RCHME, NU 13 SE 2,

End of official listing