Lordenshaw multivallate hillfort, Romano-British settlements, field system, cairnfield, cross dyke, round cairn cemetery, rock art and medieval park pale


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Whitton and Tosson
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NZ 05554 99220

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

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 usually of stone construction. Frequently the enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout which included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of the enclosure, facing the single entrance way. In front of the houses were pathways and small enclosed yards. These homesteads were being constructed by non-Roman natives throughout the period of the Roman occupation and are common throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as well preserved earthworks. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally important. Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the 5th century AD. They cover large areas and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding land surface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (c.3400 BC), although the majority appear to be the result of field clearance during the Bronze Age. Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches beside and parallel to one or more banks. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and landuse in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well preserved examples are considered to be of national importance. Round cairn cemeteries date to the Bronze Age. They comprise groups of cairns sited in close proximity to one another and take the form of stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. Contemporary or later flat graves may lie between individual cairns. Round cairn cemeteries occur throughout much of upland Britain and often occupy prominent locations where they are a major element in the modern landscape. Their diversity and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. Prehistoric rock art is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland, Durham and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is the `cup and ring' marking where small cup-like hollows are pecked into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the ring may also exist, providing the decoration with a `tail'. Pecked lines or grooves can also occur in isolation. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (c.2800 to 500 BC) and provide one of our most important insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the signs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. All positively identified prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will normally be identified as nationally important. Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management of deer and other animals. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually consisted of a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks were surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank, often with an internal ditch. Although a number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. By the time of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. Deer parks were a long lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of the medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Irregular enclosed field systems date from the medieval period. They usually cover areas of between 1ha and 8ha and comprise a random distribution of fields, each defined and enclosed by a physical boundary. Individual field size varies but generally falls into the range of below 1ha and 2.5ha and they can be irregular in shape or more regularly rectangular. The field boundaries can take various forms (including walls, hedges, earthen banks and ditches) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include ridge and furrow and strip lynchets. The development of enclosed field systems during the medieval period was a response to population pressure and expansion onto marginal land. The exact morphology of a field system resulted from the nature of the topography, natural constraints such as rivers and streams and social or economic constraints such as the size of the population it was intended to support. The majority of fields are thought to have been used for pasture but others contained cultivated ground and valley bottom water meadows. Enclosed medieval field systems often continued in use throughout the post-medieval period and are a major feature of the modern landscape. Irregular enclosed field systems occur widely throughout England with a tendency towards upland areas associated with a largely dispersed settlement pattern. They offer good opportunities for understanding the medieval rural economy and provide valuable evidence regarding the morphology of field systems, their extent and distribution. The extensive prehistoric remains at Lordenshaw survive well and retain significant archaeological deposits. As a group of related sites which are good examples of their type they will provide evidence for the long term use of the moor and will contribute to any study of prehistoric settlement and activity in the region. Taken together with the medieval use of the area they demonstrate activity on the moor spanning five millennia.


The monument includes the remains of a small multivallate hillfort of Iron Age date, part of an associated field system and cairnfield, a cross dyke, a round cairn cemetery and at least 50 cup and ring marked rocks of Bronze Age date, two farmsteads of Romano-British date, a section of medieval park pale, part of a field system of medieval and post-medieval date and a lead prospecting pit. The monument is situated on Garleigh Moor in the Simonside Hills. A round cairn on the summit of Garleigh Hill, two round cairns ESE of Whittondean and a group of prehistoric decorated rocks which lie beyond the monument to the north east are the subject of separate schedulings. The small multivallate hillfort is situated on a prominent spur at the centre of the monument where it commands extensive views across Coquetdale; its defences are of more than one phase. The hillfort, subcircular in shape, measures 70m north west to south east by 45m north east to south west within three ramparts of earth and stone and two ditches; there is a counterscarp bank beyond the outer ditch. The ditches range from 6m to 9m wide and from 0.6m to 2.5m deep. The ramparts, of stone and earth, are visible in places as prominent scarps, ranging from 0.5m to 1.8m high. There are opposing, embanked entrances through the east and west sides of the hillfort; the western entrance is 3.5m wide between banks which are 0.9m high and the eastern entrance is 4.8m wide with side walls which are 3m wide and up to 1.5m high. Where the eastern entrance cuts through the inner rampart a series of upright stones, interpreted as facing stones, are visible. The interior of the hillfort, which is divided into an upper northern part and a slightly lower southern part, contains the remains of at least three stone founded circular houses ranging in size from 4m to 5.6m within walls 2.5m to 3.2m wide which stand to a height of 0.3m to 0.6m. A line of at least four subcircular depressions set against the southern rampart of the fort are interpreted as further houses. The largest of the hut circles was partially excavated during the 19th century. All of the hut circles are associated with lengths of curving banks and scarps which are interpreted as the remains of further, possibly earlier, houses. Beyond the hillfort on the south and west sides there are the prominent remains of a substantial earthwork, interpreted as an additional defensive feature or outwork. The outwork is visible as an earthen bank up to 7.2m wide, standing to a maximum height of 1.8m with a shallow outer ditch 3m wide and 0.4m deep. The earthwork is incomplete but it is thought that it may have originally continued around the north and eastern sides of the fort until it became incorporated within a field system during the medieval period. Two prominent hollow ways are visible to the east and the west of the hillfort; each is focussed on one of the hillfort entrances and they are interpreted as prehistoric trackways in origin. The first and most easterly of the trackways is 13.5m wide and 1.7m deep and the most westerly trackway is 8.5m wide and 1.2m deep. The western side of the latter trackway is formed by a dry stone wall 1.3m wide and 0.4m high. These tracks continued in use during later periods, and with the addition of several others formed a system of access ways across the moorland which continues to the present day. The fragmentary remains of a field system thought to be associated with the fort are visible. A length of field wall 0.8m wide and 0.4m high runs from the northen part of the fort outwork in a north easterly direction and is interpreted as a field wall. At the northern foot of Garleigh Crags, 650m east of the hillfort, there is a 40m long irregular alignment of at least 20 stones; a second, curving alignment of more closely spaced stones 90m long is visible 230m east of the fort. Both stone alignments are interpreted as part of the field system which was subsquently overlain by the creation of the medieval and post-medieval fields. On the low ground south west of the hillfort, there are several small rectilinear enclosures bounded by low banks 0.8m high and walls up to 0.4m high. These are interpreted as further remains of small fields and they are associated with a cairnfield containing at least ten small clearance cairns 3m to 4m in diameter and up to 1.3m high. The remains of a Romano-British settlement overlie the largely levelled south eastern defences of the hillfort. This settlement is visible as the remains of two yards which abut the outer face of the inner rampart. The yards are bounded by banks up to 4m wide and 0.6m high. Within each yard there are the prominent remains of a hut circle 4.5m across within walls spread to 2.3m and standing 0.4m high. The remains of a further two hut circles of similar dimensions are visible south of the most southerly yard and a third lies in between the two yards. A second enclosure, also interpreted as a Romano-British settlement, is situated some 550m west of the first on the summit of the ridge called Birky Hill. The settlement is visible as a hut circle 5m in diameter with walls standing to a maximum height of 0.5m. The hut circle is associated with a series of curving banks, which form parts of a surrounding enclosure 20m by 14m, and which occupy the full width of the ridge. The banks are of stone and earth construction 1m to 2m wide and stand 0.5m high. The surrounding banks are most prominent on the south west and the north eastern sides. Some 200m south of the hillfort a linear earthwork 51m long crosses the spur of the hill. This earthwork, which is interpreted as a cross dyke, is orientated north west to south east and is visible as a prominent earth and stone bank up to 4.5m wide and up to 1m high at its outer scarp; there is a ditch on the south side of the bank 3.5m wide and 0.4m deep. At its eastern end the cross dyke has been levelled and at its western end the terminal is overlain by medieval cultivation. The remains of a round cairn cemetery of Bronze Age date are visible on the hillside immediately north east of the hillfort. Seven of the round cairns lie immediately north east of the hillfort on sloping ground. These cairns measure 7m to 8m in diameter and stand between 0.3m and 1m high. Two of the cairns have the remains of a retaining circle. Two of the other cairns were excavated during the 19th century; a cist and its cover slab lie at the centre of one of the cairns and the second is visible as a scatter of stones with a second cist at its centre. It was recorded that two pieces of pottery were found in the latter cairn, the location of which is now unknown. The cemetery extends onto the lower lying ground east of the hillfort where four round cairns are visible. Three of these form a compact group known as the `Warrior's Graves'. The three cairns are between 5m and 6m in diameter and range from 0.4m to 1m high. One of these cairns has a slight hollow at its centre and it is reported that human bones were discovered during the 19th century. The fourth cairn lies 120m south east of this group and is 5m in diameter and 0.3m high. On the slopes surrounding the hillfort at Lordenshaws there are at least 50 examples of prehistoric rock art; they have been divided into five main groups. A sixth group of decorated rocks which lie beyond the monument to the north east are the subject of separate schedulings. It is considered that further decorated rocks exist at the monument beneath the vegetation. The first and most westerly group consists of five outcrops. Three of these are situated on the summit of Birky Hill and include a cup mark with a surrounding double ring and a linear duct, seven simple cup marks utilising a natural hollow in the rock and a rock containing several linear patterns of small cup marks. Some 80m north of the latter there are two further rocks. The smaller and more south easterly of the two is known as `horseshoe rock' and it has at least 16 simple cup marks contained within a `horseshoe' shaped groove. In addition to this there are at least two further cups surrounded by single rings, one cup mark surrounded by a double ring and a deeply incised groove. Some 20m north of `horseshoe rock' there is a second rock with five cup marks and several smaller cup marks known as midget cups. The second group includes at least five rocks. The largest rock, 200m west of the hillfort and known as `main rock', is situated prominently on a rise and measures 5m by 4m across. This rock displays the full known range of markings including single cups from 3cm to 10cm across, cups with single, double and triple rings of which the largest measures 24cm across and prominent basins and ducts. On part of the same outcrop, visible 10m to the south west of the larger rock, there is a single cup mark surrounded by a simple ring and at least two further cup markings. Some 90m south of `main rock' there is a small robbed round cairn with the remains of two contiguous boulders showing a total of eight simple cup markings. Twenty three metres north east of the latter a triangular shaped stone has six cup markings. The final two rocks in this group lie within the northern edge of the outwork surrounding the fort. The first at NZ 0536 9928 has at least 18 midget cups and the second, 50m south of the latter, has 18 cup marks. The third group includes at least 18 decorated rocks. Three of these are situated adjacent to the hollow way which leads from the south to the interior of the hillfort. A fourth stone containing at least four simple cup marks on its south western face has been set into the north side of the hollow way at NZ 0557 9905. The remainder of rocks in this group are situated about 30m west of the hollow way and ascend the slopes northwards. This group of rocks displays a range of motifs including individual cup markings, midget cups and larger basins, cup marks with single rings and linear ducts and channels. The simple cup markings range in size from only 3cm in diameter to large basins 17cm across. The fourth group of at least 14 rocks lie on the lower slopes to the north east of Lordenshaws hillfort on the outcrop which also contains a series of round cairns. One of the cairns has two cup marked blocks built into the eastern side of its kerb. This group includes one of the largest outcrops in the area decorated with a series of individual cup markings and long linear ducts. To the north further outcrops contain a variety of features including cups and rings which are linked together by linear ducts, although rocks decorated with simple cup marks dominate this group. The fifth group lies 550m north east of the hillfort on ground which slopes down to the Whitton Burn and contains at least eight decorated rocks. The rocks in this group contain a wide variety of symbols including single cups, cups with single, double and triple rings, some interlinked by grooves, linear ducts and midget cups. During the medieval period the western part of the monument was enclosed within a deer park known as Newtown Park. The park was created in 1275 by Roger Fitz Roger and it lay within the more extensive Forest of Rothbury. In 1310 it had a perimeter of roughly three miles and in 1368 it was well stocked with deer and had passed to the Percy family. A survey of 1586 shows that it was no longer used as a deer park and had been leased out to tenants for grazing. Part of the eastern boundary or park pale which enclosed the park crosses the monument 120m to the west of the hillfort running north-south. It is visible as an 800m length of stone wall ranging from 1.2m wide in the northern part to a spread bank 5m in the south which stands to a maximum of 0.5m high. There are two gates through the park pale which are visible as gaps up to 5.5m wide. Documents indicate that these were created when it became apparent that the construction of the park barred access for those individuals with grazing rights to the area. Two small rectilinear enclosures overlie or partially overlie the deer park pale and therefore clearly date from the time after the deer park had ceased its original function. The first, which is 10m square and open ended, is situated 330m south west of Lordenshaw hillfort. This feature, which is of an uncertain nature relates to the post-medieval use of the area. The second enclosure, 100m west of Lordenshaw hillfort, is visible as the remains of a rectangular building 7.5m by 4.4m within stone walls 0.5m wide and 0.6m high. This building has been created from stone robbed from the deer park boundary and it opens into a second rectangular enclosure, the western side of which is formed by the deer park boundary. This building is also of uncertain date and function but in the mid-19th century it is depicted on a map as `the old house'. Overlying part of the remains of the prehistoric and Romano-British landscape and the later deer park there is an extensive medieval and post-medieval field system. This was created by around 1586, and reused several of the earlier boundaries. It is visible as a series of irregular fields bounded by low earth and stone banks up to 3.5m wide and 0.6m high. Some of the fields were used for grazing while some contain the remains of broad ridge and furrow cultivation up to 13.5m wide. At least one of the medieval fields, immediately to the east of the hillfort and partially overlying its eastern side, is overlain by narrow, straighter ridge and furrow up to 5m wide. This is thought to be of 18th century date as documents show that this part of the Forest of Rothbury was enclosed during the early 18th century as part of an `improvement'. Within this field there is a rectilinear hollow 25m long, 9.5m wide and 1.7m deep dug into the slope from the downhill side. There is a surrounding bank 3.5m wide and 1m high created as upcast from the digging of the hollow. This feature is later than the 18th century ploughing as it cuts through it and it has been interpreted as a lead prospecting adit associated with the Whitton Dean lead mine which lies beyond the monument to the north. All fence lines and grouse butts, the sign on `main rock', the visitors notice board and the footpath finger post are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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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Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 2, (1992), 26-31
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 2, (1992), 22-3
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 2, (1992), 26-8
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland, (1992), 24-5
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 2, (1992), 31-3
Topping, P, 'Archaeologia Aeliana ser 5' in Lordenshaws Hillfort and its Environs, , Vol. 21, (1993), 24-5
Topping, P, 'Archaeologia Aeliana ser 5' in Lordenshaws Hillfort and its Environs, , Vol. 21, (1993), 21
Topping, P, 'Archaeologia Aeliana ser 5' in Lordenshaws Hillfort and its Environs, , Vol. 21, (1993), 22-4
Topping, P, 'Archaeologia Aeliana ser 5' in Lordenshaws Hillfort and its Environs, , Vol. 21, (1993), 15-27
Topping, P, 'Archaeologia Aeliana ser 5' in Lordenshaws Hillfort and its Environs, , Vol. 21, (1991), 25
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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.

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