Iron Age defended settlement in Fox Covert


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Iron Age defended settlement in Fox Covert
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Sep-2019 at 10:35:35.


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

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NU 02942 32936

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 Iron Age defended settlement in Fox Covert is well preserved and will retain significant archaeological deposits. Its importance is enhanced by the proximity of several contemporary defended enclosures and hillforts 2km to the west clustered on Doddington Moor and Horton Moor. The defended settlement forms part of a wider archaeological landscape and will contribute to any study of the settlement pattern during this period.


The monument includes the remains of a prehistoric defended settlement of Iron Age date. It is located in a prominent position at the south east end of a ridge and would originally have had extensive views to the north, east and south. The settlement is circular in plan and measures approximately 100m in diameter externally. It is enclosed by two earthen ramparts with an outer and medial ditch, all of which are clearly visible around the whole circuit of the settlement. The ramparts vary in width from 10m to 13.5m and in height from 0.4m to 1.3m; the medial ditch has an average depth of approximately 1m below the top of the rampart and is 3m wide. The outer ditch is 0.1m deep by 5m wide but lies about 0.8m below the top of the outer rampart. There are two slights in the rampart: that on the west side has been interpreted in the past as the original entrance and the eastern break attributed to damage caused during tree felling and planting; neither break is now clearly defined on the ground. A pheasant shelter in the medial ditch on the west side of the settlement is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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