Unenclosed hut circle settlement and plot of cord rig, 650m south west of Wholehope


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018941

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Unenclosed hut circle settlement and plot of cord rig, 650m south west of Wholehope
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 22:40:28.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Alwinton


National Grid Reference: NT 89533 09050


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.

Cord rig is the term used to describe a form of prehistoric cultivation in which crops were grown on narrow ridges subdivided by furrows. The average width between the centres of the furrows is 1.4m. Cord rig is frequently arranged in fields with formal boundaries but also occurs in smaller, irregular unenclosed plots varying between 30 and 60 sq m in size. It often extends over considerable areas, and is frequently found in association with a range of prehistoric settlement sites and with other types of prehistoric field system. It generally survives as a series of slight earthworks and is frequently first discovered on aerial photographs, but it has also been identified beneath several parts of Hadrian's Wall by excavation of marks created by an ard (a simple early wooden plough). The evidence of excavation and the study of associated monuments demonstrates that cord rig cultivation spans the period from the Bronze Age through to the Roman period. Cord Rig cultivation is known throughout the Border areas of England and Scotland, where it is a particular feature of the upland margins. The discovery of cord rig cultivation is of importance for the analysis of prehistoric settlement and agriculture as it provides insights into early agricultural practice and the division and use of the landscape. Less than 100 examples of cord rig cultivation have been identified in Northern England. As a rare monument type all well preserved examples, particularly where they are immediately associated with prehistoric or Romano-British settlements, will normally be identified as nationally important. The unenclosed hut circle 650m south west of Wholehope is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is a good example of its type and, taken with the associated plot of cord rig cultivation, will contribute to any study of prehistoric settlement and agriculture in the region.


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


The monument includes the remains of a single hut circle situated on the crest of a spur between two deeply incised streams, where it commands extensive views in all directions except the north. The hut circle, of timber ring groove type, is 10.5m in diameter within a narrow groove or slot into which timber uprights were placed; the groove is 0.5m wide and between 0.1m to 0.15m deep. The interior of the house is uneven and there is an entrance on the south east side. Immediately adjacent to the hut circle on its south eastern side there is a fragmentary plot of prehistoric cultivation or cord rig; the cord rig is clearly visible on aerial photographs as narrow ridges separated by narrow furrows, but is less easy to detect on the ground.

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: 32737

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Topping, P, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Early Cultivation in Northumberland And The Borders, , Vol. 55, (1989), 176
Gates T M, TMG 16198/57-63, (1996)
NT80NE 18,

End of official listing