Bronze Age field system on Fredden Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Bronze Age field system on Fredden Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NT 94967 26793, NT 94970 27093

Reasons for Designation

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC), although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). The considerable longevity and variation in the size, content and associations of cairnfields provide important information on the development of land use and agricultural practices. Cairnfields also retain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.

Within the landscape of upland Northern England there are many discreet blocks of land enclosed by banks of stone and earth or walls of rubble and boulders, many of which date from the Bronze Age, although earlier and later examples also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were sometimes sub-divided to accommodate animal shelters and hut circle settlements for farmers or herders. The size and form of enclosures may therefore vary considerably, depending on their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classes provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices among prehistoric communities. They are highly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are worthy of protection. The Bronze Age field system on Fredden Hill is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. Although a small part of the monument has been disturbed by former trackways, a significant part of the monument remains undisturbed. Its importance is enhanced by the presence of other broadly contemporary settlement and field system remains nearby and forms part of a wider landscape of archaeological sites in the north Cheviots whose remains are well preserved. It will contribute to any study of land use at this time.


The monument includes the remains of a Bronze Age field system, comprising a cairnfield, enclosure and embanked area, situated on the western shoulder of Fredden Hill. The ground slopes gently to the north and south and, to the north, overlooks a deep valley called The Trows at the head of the Humbleton Burn. The monument is divided into two areas of protection separated by a modern track and an area of forestry. The area of protection to the north includes an extensive cairnfield, an irregular enclosure and a sinuous bank. The cairnfield contains up to 80 cairns and includes a mixture of field clearance and burial cairns; in one of the cairns the remains of a cist have been noted in the past. The cairns measure up to 5m in diameter and stand up to 0.75m high. Towards the southern edge of the cairnfield there is a group of 15 cairns which are interpreted as burial cairns; some retain evidence of a surrounding kerb and they measure an average of 3m in diameter and stand up to 0.6m high. Around the south and west sides of these cairns a sinuous bank, 2m wide by 0.2m high, partially encloses them and, although difficult to trace on the ground, is visible on aerial photographs continuing north westwards for nearly 200m towards a forestry plantation. Aerial photographs show that it divides the remaining part of the cairnfield into two areas: the south western part is more densely populated with cairns and also contains an uneven bank thought to represent the western arc of a circular enclosure; the north eastern part is a triangular plateau defined on two sides by deep valleys where a group of at least 20 cairns lie slightly apart from the rest of the cairnfield. At the eastern end of this area of protection an enclosure, defined by a bank of earth and stone 0.5m high, measures internally 44m by 34m and has an entrance 28m wide on the north west side. The southern part of this area is traversed by several old trackways, visible as deep ruts, which are realignments of the Wooler to Commonburn House road. The second area of protection to the south includes an irregular embanked area, defined by a bank 0.25m high, containing internal subdivisions and about 20 clearance cairns up to 7m in diameter. The wooden posts at the edge of the southern area of the monument 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Gates, T, NT/9526/F-G, (1985)
NT 92 NE 78,
NT 92 NW 82,


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.

End of official listing

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