Beacon and enclosure, 175m east of Mootlaw


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015850

Date first listed: 28-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Beacon and enclosure, 175m east of Mootlaw
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 18:44:16.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Matfen

National Grid Reference: NZ 01105 75947


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

Reasons for Designation

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church towers. Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

The beacon platform and enclosure near Mootlaw are reasonably well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The contemporary enclosure is a particularly rare and unusual survival and will contribute to understanding of how the beacon site operated.


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


The monument includes the remains of a beacon platform situated within what is considered to be a contemporary enclosure, situated on the summit of a hill commanding extensive views northwards. The enclosure, which is irregularly shaped within a single earthen bank 0.6m high, is also partly formed by artificially scarped slopes on the eastern side. There is an entrance through the south western side of the enclosure. At the western side of the enclosure there are the remains of a stony platform 20m square, surrounded by a low earthen bank. This feature has been interpreted as the platform of a medieval beacon.

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: 28542

Legacy System: RSM


NZ07NW 03,

End of official listing