Two prehistoric enclosures, field clearance cairns and unenclosed hut circle settlement north of Hart Heugh, 600m south west of Wooler Common


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018442

Date first listed: 03-Jul-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Two prehistoric enclosures, field clearance cairns and unenclosed hut circle settlement north of Hart Heugh, 600m south 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: Earle


National Grid Reference: NT 96899 26045, NT 97018 26003


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.

Within the landscape of upland Northern England there are many discrete 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. 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 unenclosed settlement and field system on the northern slopes of Hart Heugh are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. They form part of a group of broadly contemporary monuments located on Hart Heugh and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use patterns at this time.


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


The monument includes the remains of a prehistoric settlement and field system located on the northern shoulder of Hart Heugh. The settlement comprises four hut circles and the field system comprises two irregular enclosures and three clearance cairns. The remains survive as upstanding earthworks. The monument is divided into two areas of protection. The western part of the monument includes an irregular sub-rectangular enclosure 30m by 40m defined by a bank 2m wide which stands between 0.2m and 0.3m high. There is an entrance 1.5m wide on the east and a small annexe about 9m square abuts the western bank. To the west of the enclosure are three field clearance cairns, on average about 3m in diameter and up to 0.25m high. To the west of the cairns, around the southern edge of the monument, are four hut circles which measure between 5m and 7m in diameter. The eastern part of the monument comprises the second irregular enclosure, roughly oval in shape, which measures 15m by 30m. It is defined by a sinuous bank of earth and stone, similar in nature to the first enclosure. At the south west end the enclosure is cut into the hillslope and the bank forms a stone revetted edge. The post and wire fence which crosses the easternmost enclosure is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath this feature 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: 31717

Legacy System: RSM


Gates, T, NT/9726/A, (1977)

End of official listing