Spades Mire linear earthwork and section of rig and furrow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015521

Date first listed: 28-Mar-1949

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Spades Mire linear earthwork and section of rig and furrow
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Berwick-upon-Tweed

National Grid Reference: NT 99711 53657, NU 00062 53631


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

Reasons for Designation

Before the formal development of town defences in the later middle ages a number of ad hoc arrangements have been identified that provided a measure of defence for important commercial, frontier and bridgehead settlements. The substantial linear boundary feature known as Spades Mire has been identified as an early attempt to define the territory associated with the early settlement of Berwick upon Tweed. It survives as an earthwork and as a buried feature visible on aerial photographs. It consists of a ditch flanked by a single internal bank. Limited excavation has shown that it was in use by the 13th century but without further excavation it is difficult to determine whether this represents the reuse of an earlier feature. The boundary enclosed an area larger than that contained by the later stone walls of the Edwardian period and considerably larger than that defined by the Elizabethan artilery defences. Its function was, however, broadly similar to these later circuits, namely to isolate the promontory, already afforded natural defence on three sides, upon which the early settlement of Berwick upon Tweed stood.

Spades Mire is well preserved and retains significant archaeological and environmental deposits. As the earliest defensive feature known at Berwick upon Tweed it is of considerable importance for study of the origins of the town and it will add greatly to our understanding of its development, which it is known from documentary evidence was a place of considerable importance.


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


The monument includes a linear earthwork of medieval date contained within two areas. The earthwork, which is oriented east to west ran from the now infilled Tapee Loch, immediately north east of Berwick castle, to the sea where it effectively cut off the peninsula upon which the town of Berwick upon Tweed stands. Evidence suggests that the earthwork is earlier than the late 13th and early 14th century Edwardian defences of Berwick upon Tweed. It therefore represents the earliest surviving defensive feature at Berwick upon Tweed, and it is considered to be related to the town which is known to have been in existence since the 11th century. The earthwork survives as a pronounced linear ditch 672m long ranging from 10m to 25m wide and from 0.9 to 3m deep. It is cut into two sections by an original off set entrance. The south side of the ditch is steeply scarped while the northern side is considerably shallower suggesting that the earthwork faced north and defended the land to the south contained by it. Situated on the south side of the ditch are traces of an accompanying rampart, now much spread and up to 13m wide.

The western section of the monument, which is contained within the first area, includes a length of ditch 300m long ranging in width from 12m to 25m and up to a maximum of 3m deep. Its most westerly part survives beneath the surface of the modern road as an infilled buried feature. Immediately south of the ditch, excavation in 1961-2 revealed the presence of an earthen rampart buried beneath the make up of the school playing field. This survived to a height of 0.9m and it was at least 6m wide, although it extended beyond the limit of the excavation. The eastern section of the monument is contained within the second area and includes a length of ditch 372m long and on average 10m wide and up to 1m deep. Flanking the ditch to the south of this section are the spread remains of the internal rampart. This has been incorporated into the later medieval field system and is partly obscured by rig and furrow cultivation running parallel to it.

A small excavation across the monument in 1961 and 1962 as well as uncovering remains of the southern rampart, revealed that the ditch was constructed before the medieval rig and furrow cultivation which lies adjacent to it. It also showed that the ditch had been deliberately filled subsequent to its construction. Several pieces of pottery and fragments of clay pipe were recovered ranging in date from the 13th century to the present day.

All school buildings including sheds and temporary classrooms, all walls, fences, the metalled surfaces of roads and pavements and all street furniture are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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: 28534

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beresford, M W, St Joseph, J K S, Medieval England: An Aerial Survey, (1979), 194
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works, (1963), 563
Ellison, M, 'Archaeology in the North' in An Archaeological Survey of Berwick upon Tweed, (1976), 152,162
White, K G, 'Proc Soc Antiq Scot' in The Spades Mire, Berwick upon Tweed, , Vol. 96, (1964), 355-60
Title: Berwick upon Tweed Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:1250

End of official listing