Defended settlement and Romano-British settlement on Shildon Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017729

Date first listed: 27-Apr-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Defended settlement and Romano-British settlement on Shildon 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: Bywell

National Grid Reference: NZ 03460 67015


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

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.

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. In many areas they were of stone construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common. Frequently the enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard layout included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of the enclosure, facing the single entrance way. In lowland areas these enclosures were originally common, although here they can frequently only be located through aerial photography. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally important. The defended settlement on Shildon Hill retains significant archaeological deposits. It is one of relatively few Iron Age defended enclosures in the Tyne Valley which will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of lowland Iron Age settlement in this area. Its subsequent re-occupation in the Romano-British period enhances the importance of the monument.


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


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date and a farmstead of Romano-British date, situated on the top of Shildon Hill and commanding extensive views of Tynedale in all directions. The defended settlement, which is roughly circular in shape, is largely visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs but its western third is visible as a substantial earthwork. The settlement measures a maximum of 90m within two ramparts and two ditches. The upstanding remains of the settlement are visible as two ramparts with a medial ditch. The ditch is 6m wide and 1m deep below the outer rampart which is 8m wide and steeply scarped on its outer face. There is an entrance through the ramparts and ditch on the western side of the settlement; this is occupied by a hollow way which runs obliquely through it. Within the interior of the settlement aerial photographs reveal faint traces of roughly circular enclosures which are considered to be the remains of circular houses. Also within the settlement there are the clear remains of a Romano-British farmstead. The farmstead, which is rectilinear in shape with rounded corners, is visible as a ditched enclosure on aerial photographs and its western side can be traced as a slight earthwork. It has maximum dimensions of 60m north east to south west by 70m north west to south east and also has an entrance through the centre of its western side. The stone wall which crosses the monument, the brick water tower situated at the northern end of the monument and the fence which defines the north edge of the quarry 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. 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: 28568

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hodgson, J C , A History of Northumberland Volume 6, (1902), 88
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4th ser' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4th ser, , Vol. 11, (1950), 179
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Hill Forts and Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 43, (1965), 61
CUCAP, BKC 15, (1972)

End of official listing