Enclosed native settlements, cultivation terraces and cairn field south west of Mounthooly


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015647

Date first listed: 12-Jun-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Enclosed native settlements, cultivation terraces and cairn field south west of Mounthooly
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kirknewton


National Grid Reference: NT 87961 22361


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

Reasons for Designation

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non- defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common. Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish border, another type occurs where the settlement enclosure was `scooped' into the hillslope. Frequently the enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard layout included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of the enclosure, facing the single entranceway. In front of the houses were pathways and small enclosed yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two houses, but larger enclosures could contain as many as six. At some sites the settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main enclosure and clustered around it. At these sites up to 30 houses may be found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known. These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their origins lie in settlement forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads are common throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as well-preserved earthworks. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally common, although there they can frequently only be located through aerial photography. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally important.

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it may be impossible to determine whether cairns contain burials. Cairnfields and cultivation terraces provide important information on the development of land use and agricultural practices. They also retain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period. The enclosed native settlements, cultivation terraces and cairnfield to the south west of Mounthooly are very well preserved examples of their type. The site is situated within an area of broadly contemporary settlements and field systems of very high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological landscape. It will contribute significantly to our understanding of the organisation and development of settlement and land use during this period.


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


The monument includes the remains of two Roman period native settlements set within a series of cultivation terraces and an associated cairn field. The site is situated on the lower east slopes of The Schil and c.100m west of the College Burn. The northernmost settlement consists of a roughly square area, 50m by 50m, enclosed within a double bank. The banks survive to a maximum height of 1m and are up to 4m wide, they are separated by a ditch 8m wide. A small section of the northern bank lies beneath the Mounthooly forestry plantation. There is an entrance, 3m wide, in the south east side of the enclosure. The foundations of a rectangular structure are visible adjacent to the entrance. Within the interior, the circular stone foundations of two prehistoric buildings, 9m and 6.5m in diameter, are visible. A track, or holloway, up to 10m wide, extends from the entrance of the enclosure downhill towards the College Burn for a length of c.100m. Approximately 130m to the south of the northern enclosure are the remains of a second settlement. This consists of an oval scooped enclosure, 35m north-south by 45m east-west. It is enclosed within a single earth and rubble bank, 6m wide and up to 0.75m high, a small section of the bank on the west side lies within the forestry plantation of Long Cleugh to the south. There is an entrance on the eastern, downslope side. The rear of the enclosure is scooped into the hillside to a depth of 3m to create an upper terrace of level ground. Raised platforms bearing the remains of the circular stone foundations of two prehistoric buildings, with internal diameters of up to 7m, are visible on this terrace. Below the terrace is a forecourt within which are the remains of a relatively modern sheep stall which partially overlies the east bank of the enclosure. A small stream now runs through the interior of the settlement. A rubble bank runs from the eastern edge of the enclosure, downslope for a length of c.70m. A small annexe, 8m by 6m, is attached to the exterior of the enclosure at the north west corner. This is also slightly scooped into the hillside and is enclosed by a rubble bank, 1m wide and up to 0.3m high. A curving rubble bank, up to 3m wide, abuts the north west corner of the southernmost settlement. This bank extends northwards for c.12m, then turns westward to run uphill for c.20m before resuming a northwards course, parallel to the contour of the hill. It extends as far as the Mounthooly forestry plantation, beyond this it is not visible due to afforestation and is not included in the scheduling. An entrance, 2m wide, occurs in the bank approximately 35m north of its most southerly point. The remains of a second bank, 2m wide and c0.10m high, abuts the southern edge of this entrance on the west side of the main bank. This bank extends westward up the slope for c.80m. The land surrounding the two settlements is divided into two areas of cultivation and an area of uncleared and uncultivated land on which the remains of clearance cairns are visible. The cultivated land covers most of the lower slope of the hillside to the east of the main north-south bank and all of the hillslope to the north of the east-west bank. It extends as far west as the modern field boundary and northwards into the Mounthooly plantation, where any remains are obscured by afforestation. The cultivated area consists of broad terraces cut into the hillslope, ranging between 3m and 7m apart. A series of terraces to the west of the main bank have stone revetted faces. The uncultivated land to the south of the east-west bank is is extremely stony and contains the remains of a number of small, circular stone cairns which would appear to represent stone clearance from the terraced area. The cairns range in diameter from 1.5m to 10m in diameter and appear to represent agricultural clearance, almost certainly from the cultivation terraces to the north. The northern edge of the northern enclosure and the southern edge of the southern enclosure both extend into areas of afforestation and both these areas are included within the scheduling. The post and wire fences which cross the edges of these two enclosures are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them 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: 24593

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Archaeology Section, Tyne, Wear Museums, , College Valley Survey: Mounthooly, (1994), 11-12
Archaeology Section, Tyne, Wear Museums, , College Valley Survey: Mounthooly, (1994), 11-12

End of official listing