Defended settlement on north slope of Harehope Hill, 570m south east of High Akled Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015636

Date first listed: 28-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Defended settlement on north slope of Harehope Hill, 570m south east of High Akled Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Akeld


National Grid Reference: NT 95950 28937

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 on the north slope of Harehope Hill is a well preserved example of a Northern prehistoric defended settlement. The earthwork defences survive well and the central settlement area remains intact with the ground plan of scoops, stone founded hut circles and banks clearly visible. The site is situated within a general 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.


This monument includes a bivallate defended settlement of a type constructed during the Early Iron Age in Northern Britain. The enclosure is contained within two concentric banks of earth and stone. The interior contains the remains of internal divisions and the stone foundations of prehistoric buildings. The site lies on a sloping plateau on the north slope of Harehope Hill. The ground slopes away steeply to the north, providing extensive views over the Milfield Plain. The site is protected by a steep gully to the east, but there are no natural defences to west or south. The settlement comprises an irregular shaped area of c.0.35ha enclosed within a double rampart, the whole monument extends over c.0.8ha. The ramparts are constructed of large boulders with a core of smaller stone. Massive boulder kerbstones are clearly visible on both the interior and exterior faces of both the ramparts. The outer rampart is up to 3m wide and up to 1.5m high, with a simple entrance, 3m wide, to the north west through which the modern pathway passes. There are slight traces of an external ditch, 3m wide and up to 0.5m deep, on the south west side. On the east side the rampart has tumbled slightly down the steep slope of the gorge and rampart material is visible for a distance of 3m from the outer edge. The inner rampart is concentric to the outer rampart and lies at a distance of c.5m, except on the north west side where they diverge slightly to enclose a wider apron of land c.8m wide. Part of the area between the inner and outer rampart on the northern side is filled with large tumbled boulders. The inner rampart is up to 3m wide and up to 2m high, on the north side the natural slope has been artificially scarped to form the rampart. The entrance is also on the north west side and is 1.5m wide. The interior of the enclosure measures c.50m by 70m. The southern edge of the enclosure has been scooped into the hillslope to a depth of c.2m and the stone foundations of a prehistoric building, 5m in diameter, lie within this scooped area. An internal enclosure is situated in the north west of the interior and encloses the area around the entrance. This enclosure is defined by a bank up to 0.3m high and 2.5m wide. It has been scooped into the hillslope along the southern edge and built up and revetted on the northern edge to form a level platform 18m by 14m. Immediately to the north of this enclosure are the sub-circular stone foundations of possibly another prehistoric building; within the centre of this is a large irregular orthostat which has been placed within a rectangular pit, smaller stones have been wedged into the pit around the base of the orthostat. The remains of a further enclosure, 9m by 8m, lies immediately to the east of this and is defined by a bank with massive kerb stones.

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: 24663

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing