Palisaded settlement 125m south of North Pike cairn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020255

Date first listed: 14-Nov-1984

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Oct-2001


Ordnance survey map of Palisaded settlement 125m south of North Pike cairn
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Alnham


National Grid Reference: NT 96926 13687


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

Reasons for Designation

A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their distribution is largely restricted to north-eastern England, the Borders and southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures. Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlements recorded in the area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled social conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time. Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common. Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were preceded by timber palisades. Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving examples are believed to be nationally important.

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 stage in this process have been erased or modified by later development and survive in a fragmentary manner. The prehistoric settlement remains that survive beyond the margins of cultivation in upland areas such as the Cheviots provide a rare opportunity of studying the first steps taken by prehistoric communities in claiming and shaping the landscape. The Breamish Valley is one of the main valleys draining the Cheviot Massif and, 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 their rarity in a national context, excellent state of survival and the archaeological integrity, most prehistoric and later monuments within the Breamish Valley will be identified as nationally important. Despite being difficult to trace on the ground, the palisaded settlement 125m south of North Pike cairn is clearly visible on aerial photographs and is reasonably well-preserved. It will preserve information that will allow us to develop a better chronology and therefore understanding of this type of habitation site. The recovery of pottery and other artefacts from the floors of the houses will enhance our understanding of everyday life of the society that constructed and inhabited palisaded settlements in the Borders. As a rare monument type, this settlement taken together with other defended enclosures in the area will add to our knowledge of prehistoric settlement and society.


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 a palisaded settlement of later prehistoric date, situated on a high north east facing ridge between the Fore Burn and the Cobden Sike. The settlement was first seen on aerial photographs and is visible on the ground as the slight remains of two timber built hut circles and part of what is thought to be a surrounding palisade. The first and more northerly hut circle is visible as a circular area about 22m in diameter. It is defined by a palisade slot 0.5m wide and 0.1m deep surrounded by a low bank 1m wide which stands to 0.1m high. This bank is thought to be formed of upcast from the digging of the palisade. In places, especially around the north eastern arc, there are slight traces of an external palisade slot. The second hut circle, situated some 10m south east of the first is visible as a circular area about 21m in diameter. It is defined by the slight traces of a palisade 0.5m wide largely visible as a change in colour of the vegetation. Aerial photographs show that there is a surrounding bank about 1m wide and an entrance through the eastern side of the hut circle. Some 16m to the south of the latter, there is a fragment of palisade 20m long, visible as a slight bank 0.1m high. This feature is thought to be part of a more extensive palisade which encloses the two hut circles.

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: 32776

Legacy System: RSM


Gates T, 2728/291, (1985)
NT91SE 147,
NT91SE 148,
NT91SE 36,

End of official listing