Prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field system on Snear Hill, 700m west of the western edge of Coronation Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016243

Date first listed: 15-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field system on Snear Hill, 700m west of the western edge of Coronation Wood
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Earle


National Grid Reference: NT 96427 24666


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

Reasons for Designation

Unenclosed hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. The hut circles take a variety of forms. Some are stone based and are visible as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Others were timber constructions and only the shallow groove in which the timber uprights used in the wall construction stood can now be identified; this may survive as a slight earthwork feature or may be visible on aerial photographs. Some can only be identified by the artificial earthwork platforms created as level stances for the houses. The number of houses in a settlement varies between one and twelve. In areas where they were constructed on hillslopes the platforms on which the houses stood are commonly arrayed in tiers along the contour of the slope. Several settlements have been shown to be associated with organised field plots, the fields being defined by low stony banks or indicated by groups of clearance cairns. Many unenclosed settlements have been shown to date to the Bronze Age but it is also clear that they were still being constructed and used in the Early Iron Age. They provide an important contrast to the various types of enclosed and defended settlements which were also being constructed and used around the same time. Their longevity of use and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.

Cord rig cultivation is a form of prehistoric cultivation in which crops were grown on narrow ridges subdivided by furrows. The average width between the centre of the furrows is 1.4m. Cord rig is frequently arranged in fields with formal boundaries but also occurs in smaller, irregular unenclosed plots varying between 30 and 60 sq metres in size. It can be fragmentary or more extensive, often extending over considerable areas and is often found in association with a range of prehistoric settlement forms and with other types of prehistoric field system. It generally survives as a series of slight earthworks and is frequently first discovered on aerial photographs, but it has also been identified by excavation as a series of ard (a simple early wooden plough) marks beneath several parts of Hadrian's Wall. The evidence of excavation and the study of associated monuments demonstrates that cord rig cultivation spans the period from the Bronze Age through to the Roman period. Cord rig cultivation is known throughout the Border areas of England and Scotland where it is a particular feature of the upland margins. The discovery of cord rig cultivation is of considerable importance for the analysis of prehistoric settlement and agriculture. Less than 100 examples of cord rig cultivation have been identified in northern England. As a rare monument type all well preserved examples, particularly where they are immediately associated with prehistoric or Roman settlements, will normally be identified as nationally important. The prehistoric settlement and field system on Snear Hill survive reasonably well and will contain significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of broadly contemporary settlements, enclosures and field systems situated above the valley of the Harthope Burn. The settlement is situated within an area of clustered archaeological sites of high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological landscape. It will contribute to the study of the wider settlement and land use pattern during this period.


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The monument includes a prehistoric unenclosed hut circle settlement and field system situated on a north facing hillslope near the summit of Snear Hill. A group of at least five stone founded round houses lie below a break in the slope on a level shelf of land and measure between 7m and 10m in diameter and stand up to 0.2m high. North of this settlement lies an associated field system which comprises low linear earth and stone banks up to 0.2m high, 17 clearance cairns and faint traces of cord rig cultivation, which are clearly visible on aerial photographs. The clearance cairns are irregular in shape and measure on average 4m in diameter, stand up to 0.5m high and are aligned roughly east west along the edge of a block of cord rig. The associated field banks are in part respected by the cord rig and in places overlain by it, indicating at least two phases of cultivation. Fifty metres to the north east of this field system are a pair of clearance cairns and further to the north east is a group of 13 cairns. Amongst these clearance cairns lie the remains of two probable burial cairns which survive as rings of stone 8m in diameter and up to 0.1m high with a slight central hollow. On the eastern margin of the clearance cairns lie two platforms, c.5m in diameter, scooped into the hillslope and which are interpreted as house platforms. The post and wire fences along the north and east sides of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 29315

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing