Prehistoric hut circle settlement, farmstead and field system, 425m east of Burntshield Haugh


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017960

Date first listed: 27-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric hut circle settlement, farmstead and field system, 425m 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 92894 53146


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. Infront of the houses were pathways and small enclosed yards. At some sites the settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main enclosure and clustered around it. 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 regular aggregate field system is a group of regularly defined fields of prehistoric or Roman date, laid out in a block or blocks, which lie approximately at right angles to each other, usually with a settlement as a focal point. Fields are generally square or rectangular and the blocks give an ordered, if irregular shape to the field system as a whole. They are characteristically extensive monument types; the number of individual fields varies from 2 to approximately 50, but this is, at least in part, a reflection of bias in the archaeological record rather than the true extent of such land divisions during their period of use, as continued land use has often obliterated traces of the full extent of such field systems. The fields were the primary units of production in a mixed farming economy, incorporating pastoral, arable and horticultural elements. As rare monument types which provide an insight into land division and agricultural practice during their period of use all well preserved examples will normally be identified as nationally important. The hut circles, farmstead and associated field system near Burntshield Haugh are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. Taken together they will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of settlement and agriculture in the North Pennines.


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


The monument includes the remains of two hut circles, a farmstead and a field system of prehistoric date, situated on the western edge of Burntshieldhaugh Fell, overlooking the valley of Devil's Water to the south. The farmstead, which is partly overlain by a rectangular sheep fold, is visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 25m north to south by 20m east to west within walls of stone and earth 3m wide which stand to a maximum height of 0.5m. Attached to the outside western wall of the enclosure there are the foundations of three circular stone founded houses, each measuring 5.5m in diameter with walls standing to a maximum height of 0.3m. A trackway leads from the western side of the enclosure down the valley side through the western part of an associated field system which surrounds the settlement on all sides. The field system is visible as a series of boundaries which divide the landscape into several enclosed areas. The boundaries are of two types; irregular, sinuous low banks, and lines of single boulders up to 2m wide and standing to between 0.3 to 1m high. The slight traces of what are thought to be two earlier hut circles incorporated within the field system suggest that this settlement developed out of an earlier unenclosed Bronze Age settlement. All fence lines which cross the monument and the stone sheepfold overlying the farmstead 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: 28577

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Lord Crewe Estate Archaeological Survey , (1993)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Lord Crewe Estate Archaeological Survey , (1993)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , Burntshieldhaugh 2 Prehistoric settlement and field system, (1993)
Burntshieldhaugh 2, (1993)

End of official listing