Prehistoric field system and cairnfield east of Watch Hill, 520m NNE of footbridge over Carey Burn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018374

Date first listed: 31-Jul-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric field system and cairnfield east of Watch Hill, 520m NNE of footbridge over Carey Burn
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wooler


National Grid Reference: NT 96175 26081


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

Reasons for Designation

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

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. The prehistoric field system and cairnfield are well preserved and will retain significant archaeological deposits. Their importance is enhanced by the survival nearby of other prehistoric field systems and settlements clustered around Fredden Hill. It forms part of a wider archaeological landscape in the Cheviot Hills and will contribute to any study of the wider settlement and land use pattern during this period.


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


The monument includes an extensive field system of Bronze Age date situated on a gently sloping saddle of land between Hart Heugh and Fredden Hill. The field system comprises at least 40 clearance cairns, banks and lynchets which define irregular field plots. In addition, there are at least two burial cairns. The field system stretches for several hundred metres and is characterised by sub-rectangular fields and a scatter of field clearance cairns. The fields measure an average 25m by 35m and are defined by slight earthen banks and lynchets which stand to a maximum height of 0.25m. Although slight, the field system was fully surveyed by the Ordnance Survey in 1967. The clearance cairns are clearly visible as turf-covered mounds of earth and stone ranging in size from 1m to 6m in diameter and standing up to 0.6m high. Two cairns are more substantial than those surrounding them and are intepreted as burial cairns. The first measures about 11m in diameter and stands 1.25m high with kerb stones visible around its outer edge. The centre is disturbed, probably the result of an unrecorded antiquarian investigation in the 19th or 20th century. A second burial cairn lies at the extreme south of the monument and measures 4.6m in diameter by 0.75m high with kerb stones visible around part of its perimeter.

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: 31708

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing