Prehistoric field system, cairnfield, round cairns and enclosed cremation cemetery on east slopes of Fredden Hill, 750m west of Wooler Common


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018375

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric field system, cairnfield, round cairns and enclosed cremation cemetery on east slopes of Fredden Hill, 750m west of Wooler Common
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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 96603 26570


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. An enclosed Bronze Age urnfield is a burial ground in which cremations, usually placed in cinerary urns, were interred within a circular enclosure up to 30m in diameter. This was formed by either a ditch, a bank, or a bank within a stone circle. There was normally an entrance or causeway allowing access into the enclosure, where a central mound or standing stone is sometimes found. Excavated examples are known to date to the Middle Bronze Age between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. Enclosed Bronze Age urnfields are largely found in the north of England, mainly in Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland, although their distribution also extends into Scotland. They are a rare type of Bronze Age burial monument, with fewer than 50 identified examples and provide an important insight into beliefs and social organisation during this period. All positively identified examples are considered to be nationally important. The prehistoric field system, cairnfield, round cairns and enclosed cremation cemetery 750m west of Wooler Common are well preserved and will retain significant archaeological deposits. Their importance is enhanced by the survival nearby of other broadly contemporary field systems and cairnfields around Fredden Hill. The monument forms part of a wider archaeological landscape in the Cheviot Hills and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use during this preriod.


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


The monument includes a field system, cairnfield, burial cairns and enclosed cremation cemetery of prehistoric date situated on the gentle eastern slopes of Fredden Hill. The field system stretches for over 100m and comprises irregular field plots defined by slight earthen banks and lynchets standing up to 0.25m high. The fields vary in size and shape, the largest measuring about 70m by 30m. At least 20 field clearance cairns are scattered across the field system and these are visible as turf-covered circular or linear mounds of earth and stone between 1m and 6m in diameter or between 10m and 13m in length. In addition, there are at least two burial cairns. The first measures 8.4m in diameter and up to 0.6m high with evidence of a kerb around the eastern edge; it was partially excavated in 1949 by J Bainham although no records of this event have been located. The second cairn lies 57m to the south east of the first and measures 7m in diameter by 0.4m high; the centre also appears to have been disturbed and is probably the result of an unrecorded antiquarian investigation. At the northern end of the monument is a `U'-shaped enclosure approximately 30m long and open ended to the south. It is defined by a slight earthen bank up to 0.3m high and spread up to 2.5m wide and is interpreted as an enclosed cremation cemetery. The post and wire fence crossing the northern part of the monument and the fencing around the eastern edge 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: 31709

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing