Unenclosed hut circle settlement, associated field system and cairnfield on Standrop Rigg, 820m north west of Linhope Spout


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020246

Date first listed: 10-Oct-2001


Ordnance survey map of Unenclosed hut circle settlement, associated field system and cairnfield on Standrop Rigg, 820m north west of Linhope Spout
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ingram


National Grid Reference: NT 95070 17411


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

Reasons for Designation

In a densely settled and highly developed country such as England, the landscapes of all but the most bleak mountain summits are, to varying degrees, the product of centuries and millennia of human development. Except in areas today considered to be marginal, most traces of the earliest stages in this process have been erased or modified by later development and only survive in a fragmentary manner. The prehistoric settlement remains that survive beyond the margins of more recent cultivation in upland areas such as the Cheviots provide a rare opportunity to recognise the prehistoric shape of the landscape. The Breamish Valley is one of the main valleys draining the Cheviot Massif. Because of comprehensive field survey during the 1980s, it is also one of the best recorded upland areas in England. The field evidence for human activity within the valley is diverse and spans at least five millennia from the Neolithic to the post-medieval period. Of particular importance are the well- preserved and extensive upland prehistoric remains, including settlements, field systems and cairnfields. On the enclosed land within the valley, archaeological remains are more fragmentary, but they survive sufficiently well to show that human activity extended below what is now open fell land. Due to excellent state of survival, their archaeological integrity, and their rarity in a national context, most recorded prehistoric and later monuments within the Breamish Valley will be identified as nationally important.

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. 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. Irregular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover large areas and comprise a collection of contiguous field plots which are irregular in shape and size and which accreted around a focal point, usually a settlement. Individual fields are generally small and fall within the 0.2ha-0.6ha range and their individual shape and size was the result of local factors such as topography and short term agricultural requirements. The field boundaries, which follow straight or sinuous courses, are usually dry stone walls, with lynchets being a feature on sloping ground. Component features common to most systems include entrances and occasionally trackways. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding land surface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. 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 during the Bronze Age. Despite having been partially excavated, the unenclosed settlement on Standrop Rigg survives well. The excavation in 1979 was limited to two of the houses and sufficient of the settlement remains to provide important information about the manner of its construction and the nature and length of its occupation. The site will contain deposits suitable for radiocarbon dating which will help to establish a chronology for such sites in the area. The associated field system and cairnfield survive well and will contribute to our understanding of the nature and longevity of small scale clearance and agricultural exploitation during the Bronze Age. The settlement and agricultural remains on Standrop Rigg represent one of the most elevated permanent settlements in Northumberland, and are thought to mark the limit of Bronze Age expansion into the interior of the uplands. Taken together with the contemporary remains at Linhope Burn, they will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of Bronze Age settlement and agriculture.


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


The monument includes the known extent of the upstanding and buried remains of an unenclosed settlement, an associated irregular aggregate field system and a cairnfield of Bronze Age date, situated immediately north of the Linhope Burn on the lower south east facing slopes of Great Standrop. The adjacent unenclosed settlement and field system near Linhope Burn, are the subject of a separate scheduling. The unenclosed settlement is located at high altitude and is considered to be one of the most elevated settlements in the county. It contains the dispersed remains of up to five circular houses. Three of these houses are visible as slightly raised circular platforms ranging from 7m to 10m in diameter. The fourth and most prominent house is visible as a circular bank of stone and rubble some 3m wide and 0.7m high enclosing a space 9m in diameter. This house was excavated in 1979; the remains of an internal timber building were discovered with an outer ring of stakes forming a wattle screen and internal postholes which held substantial roof supports. A small stone hearth was placed slightly off centre and two shallow pits were also found. Pieces of hand made pottery, some decorated with scored lines, were discovered within the house. Radiocarbon dates recovered from charcoal associated with one of the pits suggest activity at the site in the early Bronze Age, although the exact date of occupation of the house remains uncertain. The fifth house, which is no longer visible as an upstanding feature, was also excavated in 1979 and its lower parts remain below the surface of the ground. This house was shown to consist of a circular bank of stones and boulders 2.5m wide and 0.5m high within which there was a series of stake holes and postholes, a hearth and a pit. The main occupation of this house was associated with a radiocarbon date from the early Iron Age. Several pieces of decorated pottery, two fragments from a quern stone and several other stone tools interpreted as hand rubbers were also recovered. The unenclosed settlement is situated with a prehistoric field system some 2.75ha in extent. The field system is visible as the remains of at least eleven irregularly shaped fields, enclosed either by low rubble walls standing to a maximum height of 0.5m or by slight terraces and lynchets. The individual field plots are on average 0.2ha. Several entrances to the fields are visible as gaps through some of the boundaries. The cairnfield is visible as at least 12 roughly shaped circular clearance cairns scattered across the field system. Most of the field plots contain one or two cairns, though no individual plot contains more than two. The cairns vary in size from 2m to 6m across and are on average 0.5m high. They represent a phase of land clearance prior to agricultural activity and are thought to be the earliest remains at the site. The fence line which crosses the southern end of the site 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: 32766

Legacy System: RSM


NT91E 52,
NT91E 72,
NT91NE 52,
NT91NE 72,

End of official listing