Defended settlement and Roman signal station 410m south of West Crindledikes


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Defended settlement and Roman signal station 410m south of West Crindledikes
© 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)
Bardon Mill
National Grid Reference:
NY 78293 66814

Reasons for Designation

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD). Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national importance.

Roman signal stations were rectangular towers of stone or wood situated within ditched, embanked, palisaded or walled enclosures. They were built by the Roman army for military observation and signalling by means of fire or smoke. They normally formed an element of a wider system of defence and signalling between military sites such as forts and camps and towns, generally as part of a chain of stations to cover long distances. In Northern England stations were used in particular to augment the main frontier formed by Hadrian's Wall. Signal stations were constructed and used in Britain mainly during three distinct periods. The earliest examples were built between AD 50 and AD 117 for use during the earliest military campaigns during the conquest period. Signal stations at this period took the form of a wooden tower surrounded by a ditch and bank and possibly a slight timber palisade. Signal stations survive as low earthworks, or their below ground remains may be identified on aerial photographs. Fewer than 50 examples have been identified in England. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy, government policy and pattern of military control, signal stations are of importance to our understanding of the period. All Roman signal stations with surviving archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important. The defended settlement on Barcombe Hill is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a number of prehistoric monuments in the Hadrian's Wall corridor which, taken together, will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of settlement and activity at this time. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of a well preserved early Roman signal station within it.


The monument includes a defended settlement of Iron Age date and a signal station of Roman date, situated in a prominent location on the northern edge of Barcombe Hill. The defended settlement is visible as a roughly oval enclosure, 95m north east to south west by 42m north west to south east, within an inner and outer bank and a ditch. The stone and earth inner bank is up to 2m wide and is best preserved on the south and eastern sides. The surrounding ditch is on average 6m wide and 1m deep. Outside of the ditch there is a second bank on average 3m wide and standing to a maximum of 0.6m high where it is best preserved on the south side. The northern side of the enclosure has been disturbed by a series of quarry holes thought to be Roman in date and associated with the construction of Hadrian's Wall. Within the north west corner of the enclosure there are the well preserved remains of a turf-built Roman signal station, visible as a roughly rectangular enclosure with rounded corners, 17m east to west by 13m north to south and standing to a maximum height of 0.8m. It is surrounded by a broad ditch on average 3m wide. Within the enclosure is a raised central platform, and the remains of at least one causeway giving access across the ditch is visible. The signal station was the subject of limited excavation in 1939 and again in the early 1950s; both excavations uncovered a limestone flagged base to the turf rampart measuring 4.2m wide which was cut into the rampart of the earlier defended settlement. The later excavation also recorded the discovery of a small oven with a stoke hole to the north east, a large amount of charcoal and Roman pottery of first century date. It is thought that the signal station pre-dated the construction of Hadrian's Wall and was only in use for a short time during the later first century AD.

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:
Legacy System:


NY76NE 19,


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.

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