The Ringles defended settlement 1025m north west of Middleton Dean


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014931

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1966

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of The Ringles defended settlement 1025m north west of Middleton Dean
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 17:16:32.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ilderton


National Grid Reference: NT 99004 22976


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 Ringles defended settlement is a reasonably well preserved example of a northern prehistoric defended settlement. Although some of the monument's outer defences have been reduced by ploughing they are still traceable in part. The interior of the site and the western defences survive well and are clearly visible. The monument is situated within an area of clustered archaeological sites of high quality and therefore forms part of a wider archaeological landscape. As such it will contribute significantly to the study of the wider settlement pattern during this period.


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


This monument includes a multivallate defended settlement of a type constructed during the Early Iron Age in northern Britain. The sub-oval enclosure is defended by up to three ramparts and a defensive ditch. The interior of the enclosure contains the remains of at least four courtyards. A drystone wall runs across the western edge of the site and is included within the scheduling. A complex of field banks and rectangular pens lie immediately to the west of the site. These remains would appear to be post-medieval in date and are not included in the scheduling. The site is situated on a steep sided knoll, the ground falls away sharply to north, south and east and the site commands extensive views to the east. The site falls within two fields and is divided by a very denuded drystone wall along the western edge. The interior of the monument comprises an oval area, 45m by 65m, enclosed within a wide, spread rampart up to 12m wide and up to 1m high. The more gently sloping ground to the west has been scarped to form an additional steep sided bank revetted with stone. The dry stone wall follows the edge of this bank, which appears to extend almost as far as the post and wire fence to the east of the site. The western side of the monument is also protected by a steep sided ditch, up to 9m wide and 3.5m deep, with an outer rampart up to 4m wide and up to 1.5m high. This rampart survives well in the field to the west of the drystone wall. It is visible for a length of 57m, it has a steep, sharply defined profile and a flat top. Traces of a north and south return are visible for a short section, but to the east of the dry stone wall the lower part of the monument has been reduced by ploughing, slight remains are visible on the southern side for a short distance. The northern side is naturally so steep that it is unlikely that an additional defence would have been provided on this side. There are slight traces of a second bank or rampart, up to 4m wide and 0.1m high, on the eastern side of the monument, at a distance of c.37m from the inner rampart. The interior of the main enclosure is slightly dished as a result of at least four courtyards having been levelled into the hilltop. These courtyards range from 10m by 12m to 22m by 25m and are defined by low banks. A post and wire fence lies to the east of the drystone wall, and is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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: 24659

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing