Hut circle settlement and field system, Romano-British settlement, hush and lead ore works, 750m north east of Burntshield Haugh


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017959

Date first listed: 27-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Hut circle settlement and field system, Romano-British settlement, hush and lead ore works, 750m north east of Burntshield Haugh
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hexhamshire

National Grid Reference: NY 92729 53658


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.

In 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 much of Northumberland the enclosures were curvilinear in form but 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 front of the houses were pathways and small enclosed yards. These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their origins lie in settlement forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads 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. A hush is a gully or ravine excavated at least in part by use of a controlled torrent of water, to reveal or exploit a vein of lead or other mineral ore. Dams and leats to supply the water are normally associated, and some examples show tips of waste from manual ore processing beside the hush itself. Shaft and adit mineworkings sometimes occur in spatial association, though their working will not have been contemporary with that of the hush. There is documentary evidence for hushing from the Roman period on the continent, and from the 16th century in England; however, a high proportion of surviving hushes are believed to be of 17th or 18th century in date, the technique dying out by the mid-19th century. Hushes are a dramatic and very visible component of the lead mining industry. They are common in the Pennines from Yorkshire northwards, and in parts of Wales, but are rare in other lead mining areas. A sample of the better preserved isolated examples and those which form part of more extensive lead mining complexes, will merit protection. The lead ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the mixture of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground were separated (dressed) to form a smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised as: picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to smaller size, sorting of broken material by size, separation of gravel sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water (jigging); and separation of finer materials by washing away the lighter waste in a current of water (buddling). The field remains of ore works include the remains of crushing devices, separating structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supply and power installations such as wheel pits and more rarely, steam engine houses. Simple ore dressing devices had been developed by the 16th century, but the large majority of separate ore works sites date from the 18th and 19th centuries, during which period the technology used evolved rapidly. Ore works represent an essential stage in the production of metallic lead, an industry in which Britain was a world leader in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sites are common in all lead mining areas and a sample of the best preserved sites (covering the regional, chronological and typological variety of the class) will merit protection. The prehistoric settlements and fields along with the 18th century hush and oreworks on Burntshieldhaugh Fell survive well and retain significant archaeological deposits. Few prehistoric settlements and fields have been identified in this part of the North Pennines and this example will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of prehistoric settlement and activity in the region. The 18th century industrial complex retains a wide and varied range of features, most of which remain intact and have not been modified by later activity.


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


The monument includes the remains of a prehistoric hut circle settlement and associated field system, a later Romano-British settlement and a lead mining complex including a hush and a lead ore works, situated on the western edge of Burntshieldhaugh Fell, overlooking the valley of Devil's Water to the south. The hut circle settlement is visible as the remains of three circular stone founded houses measuring 10m, 6m and 5m in diameter with walls which stand to a maximum height of 0.3m. The settlement lies in open moorland immediately above the limit of medieval and post-medieval cultivation. To the north and south of the settlement, and also on the open moorland, there are the remains of an associated field system; the field system is visible as a series of irregular walls of boulders up to 3m wide and standing to a maximum height of 0.5m. The walls divide the landscape into a series of enclosed areas or fields, several of which have clear entrances marked by large upright stones. A roughly square enclosure, interpreted as an Iron Age or Romano-British settlement, has been constructed over the earlier remains, incorporating the two hut circles. The enclosure measures 45m across within low walls of boulder construction. Both the prehistoric and Romano-British settlements and field system remains are likely to have originally been more extensive. However, they have been truncated on the western side by medieval and post-medieval fields. During the 18th century, the prehistoric settlements and field system were cut by a leadmining hush. The hush, which measures a maximum of 550m long, varies in width from 15m to 30m. It is of variable depth but measures a maximum of 10m deep. At the upper, southern end of the hush there are the remains of an old shaft mine. It is conical in shape and measures up to 10m wide at the top of the cone and 3m wide at the bottom. The shaft is surrounded by a ring of spoil, spread to 5m, and it is clearly earlier than the hush as it is cut by it. The remains of further shafts, also cut by the hush, are visible to the north. The shafts represent the earliest evidence of lead mining at the monument. Towards its northern end, the hush is flanked on both sides by areas of dressing waste and mining spoil. Both have been sorted into piles of different size. Also flanking the hush are the footings of several associated small buildings which served as mine offices. The best preserved of these is visible as a small, rectangular, dry stone building measuring 7m by 5.5m. The collapsed remains of a limekiln are also visible as a corbelled vault on the eastern edge of the hush, now infilled. At the upper southern end of the hush there is a well preserved hush dam. The dam is constructed of stone and earth and retains a pond to its rear. A stone lined leat issues from the dam, which was originally blocked by a sluice gate. The leat, which is 2m wide and 150m long, is flanked by linear banks measuring 2m wide and carried the water from the dam pond into the mouth of the hush. The oreworks are situated at the base of the hush. A dam with a stone lined leat issuing from the base of the hush carries water into the foundations of a crushing mill containing the slight remains of what is considered to be a crushing circle. A rectangular wheel pit nearby provided the power for the ore processing. Immediately north of the crushing mill, on low lying land adjacent to the river, there are the remains of at least three settling tanks, visible as shallow, rectangular depressions which are slightly terraced into the slope. Beyond the ore works are a variety of low earthworks representing drainage features, including a sough tail and roadways, associated with the foundations of several small buildings all associated with the ore works. All walls and fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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.

Legacy System number: 28576

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Butcher, B et al, Burntshieldhaugh Fell, (1989)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Lord Crewe Estate Archaeological Survey , (1993)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Lord Crewe Estate Archaeological Survey , (1993)
NY95SW 05,

End of official listing