Ring cairn and round cairn on Turf Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017725

Date first listed: 24-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Ring cairn and round cairn on Turf Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Alwinton


National Grid Reference: NT 86644 07383, NT 86675 07424


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

Reasons for Designation

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c. 2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visible element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation among early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The ring cairn and the round cairn on Turf Hill are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. Taken together they will add greatly to our knowledge of the complexity of Bronze Age funerary practice.


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


The monument includes the remains of a ring cairn and a round cairn of Bronze Age date, situated on a low coll between Through Hill and Long Hill. It is divided into two separate areas. The elevated situation affords extensive views to the north and south, while the ground rises to the east and west. The ring cairn, which measures a total of 19m in diameter, is visible as a low circular annular bank on average 2m wide and standing to a maximum of 1m high on the south side. The annular bank encloses a central space which measures 11m in diameter and contains the remains of at least one small mound of stones, thought to cover the remains of burials. Other small mounds visible within the central area are thought to represent further funerary remains. Some 36m south west of the ring cairn there is a small round cairn. The cairn, which measures 6m in diameter, stands to a maximum height of 1m.

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: 28562

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Charlton, B, Fifty centuries of Peace and War, (1996), 28

End of official listing