Promontory fort 330m south east of Middleton Dean


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Promontory fort 330m south east of Middleton Dean
© 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)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NT 99783 21927

Reasons for Designation

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.

The Iron Age promontory fort 330m south east of Middleton Dean survives in good condition and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a number of archaeological sites on and around Dod Hill which, taken together, will contribute to the study of prehistoric settlement in this area.


The monument includes the remains of a promontory fort of Iron Age date situated on the edge of a terrace above Southmiddleton Dean. There are steep slopes on the north and east sides and artifical defences have been built around the south and west. The fort is overlooked by Dod Hill to the south but commands extensive views to the north. The interior of the fort contains evidence of habitation in the form of hut circles as well as secondary use in the form of sheep pens. The fort measures 115m north west to south east by 50m south west to north east. The artifical defences comprise a well preserved rampart and ditch. The rampart is built of earth and stone and measures 5m wide and stands up to 2.5m high. The external ditch measures 8m wide by 3m deep from the top of the rampart. In addition, in places there is a slight outer bank 2m wide by 0.2m high formed from ditch upcast material. At the north western end of the defences there is a causewayed entrance 1.5m wide. Within the fort are the remains of two hut circles and an internal dividing bank which forms a smaller enclosure at the north western end. Built against and over the rampart are two rectangular foundations which are interpreted as later sheep pens. The adjacent prehistoric and medieval sites are the subject of separate schedulings.

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.

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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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