Ingram Farm: prehistoric to post-medieval settlement, agricultural and funerary remains


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NU 00726 15148

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 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. Their partial re-use and adaptation by successive communities up to the present day present a complete picture of land use history in the region. The Breamish Valley is one 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. The multi-period remains on Ingram Farm provide one of the finest examples of successive adaption in England. The rich archaeological remains are exceptionally well-preserved and largely undisturbed by modern farming. The evidence of re-use of earlier features by successive groups illustrates the ways by which prehistoric and later communities regarded the landscape, and the remains they encountered from its earlier users. The diversity of surviving features demonstrates the major phases of prehistoric to post-medieval land use in the Cheviots. The excellent survival of prehistoric remains gives a rare insight into an unusually long development of activities in considerable detail and over a sufficiently extensive area to demonstrate variations over time. These include population levels, farming methods, the size of agricultural and social units and the important role of the topography in the organisation of these factors.


The monument includes buried and upstanding remains from successive phases of prehistoric to post-medieval activity on Ingram Farm in the Breamish Valley. The farm forms a topographical block defined by rivers and streams and includes 6 sq km of unimproved pasture. The high summits of Brough Law, Ewe Hill, Wether Hill and Cochrane Pike and the valley of the Middledean Burn dominate the topography of the monument. The remainder of the area is characterised by high, gentle to moderately sloping ground. The remains include approximately 40 prehistoric settlements, many associated with prehistoric field systems; more than 200 prehistoric cairns representing both funerary activity and surface rubble clearance; and extensive linear earthworks. Intensive medieval arable exploitation has led to the superimposition of an extensive field system and associated rectangular buildings over the prehistoric remains in the area between Ewe Hill and Fawdon Burn, while post-medieval pastoral activity has produced several pasture boundaries and about 30 rectangular buildings including many shielings. A programme of survey and excavation between 1994 and 2003 has provided new radio-carbon dates for many features and has emphasised the complexity and longevity of the remains. Further prehistoric to post-medieval remains lie beyond the scheduling on all sides and are the subjects of separate schedulings. The overall complex of prehistoric remains include a range of components: round cairns, unenclosed hut circle settlements, palisaded settlements, defended settlements, enclosed settlements, trackways, field systems, cairnfields and linear earthworks. The various relationships between these features and their patterning across the ground demonstrates the sequence of prehistoric settlement and land use of the monument. There is increasing evidence of Mesolithic and Neolithic activity in the area including some early radio-carbon dates, the discovery of flint tools and, most notably, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age pottery excavated from a timber-lined burial pit at Wether Hill. However, the first tangible field evidence of prehistoric activity are the numerous Bronze Age round cairns: funerary monuments constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials, often placed in stone coffins called cists. More than 20 isolated, large round cairns have been identified within the scheduling, many of which are located in prominent positions. They are visible as a wide range of shapes and sizes, but are generally 5m to 10m in diameter. Two cairns on Turf Knowe were partially excavated between 1995 and 1998. North Knoll cairn contained two cists and at least 17 cremated bodies, many of these infants. Turf Knowe cairn was an unusual burial structure dating from the Early Bronze Age. It contained several cists, one associated with a flint tool and part of a Bronze Age pot known as a Food Vessel and another contained cremated bone and a fragment of an iron spear tip. A radio-carbon date of AD 500 from a hearth within this cairn showed that there was also post-Roman activity at the cairn. A third round cairn, situated to the east of the defended settlement on Wether Hill, was excavated between 1996 and 1997 and was shown to have been robbed in the past. Several different forms of prehistoric settlements are visible at Ingram Farm, representing all known settlement types in the Cheviots, including hut circle settlements, palisaded settlements, defended settlements and enclosed settlements. The earliest, thought to date from the Bronze Age and associated with the adjacent prehistoric field systems and cairnfields, are unenclosed hut circle settlements which are visible in a variety of forms. There are at least 15 individual unenclosed settlements, ranging in size from individual huts, to groups of between two and four houses. The hut circles take a variety of forms, although most are stone based and visible as low walls or banks surrounding a circular floor area. Individual houses range in size from about 5m to 10.5m in diameter. The sites of several other houses are visible as level platforms created as level stances for houses, accompanied by a spread of stone and rubble up to 0.6m high. Many are set into the natural hillslope with a visible back scarp up to 0.8m high and several are set into earlier lynchets and terraces. Other unenclosed settlements were of timber construction and are visible as shallow circular grooves in which the wall timbers were placed. The remains of at least six Iron Age palisaded settlements survive at the monument. These are small defensive enclosures visible as roughly circular trenches which formed the settings for substantial palisades. The first lies within a later prehistoric enclosure situated on the gentle south east facing slopes of Ingram Hill. Excavation in 1939 revealed the narrow trench of a circular palisade, which survived 0.3m wide and deep. In 1995, a detailed survey of the defended settlement on Wether Hill identified a palisaded settlement approximately 60m in diameter within the defences of the later settlement. The remains of what are thought to be two further palisaded enclosures were uncovered by excavation 200m north east of the defended settlement on Wether Hill between 1994 and 1998. Unlike those on Ingram and Wether Hills, neither of these two settlements had been strengthened by defensive ramparts. The first, and most northerly palisade, measured 20m by 16m in diameter and contained the partial remains of a ring groove house. A date of 250 BC was established by radio-carbon dating. The second, contiguous palisade trench was dated to 200 BC and contained the remains of a circular post built roundhouse about 4.5m in diameter. In 2000, two further palisaded settlements were uncovered by excavation on the lower slopes of Wether Hill, about 1km north east of the hillfort. One enclosure overlaps the other and excavation revealed that each enclosure contained a stone round house. Radio-carbon dating has shown that the house associated with the first palisaded enclosure was dated to the mid to late Iron Age, while the house associated with the second palisaded enclosure was dated to the Romano-British period. Three defended settlements of Iron Age date are visible at Brough Law, Middle Dean and Wether Hill. Brough Law hillfort occupies a defensible position on the summit of the hill where it commands views across the River Breamish and surrounding countryside. It is visible as a sub-circular enclosure 68m by 54m within a substantial stone wall with a double outer face 3.5m to 5.5m wide and a maximum of six courses high. There is a splayed entrance through the east side 4m wide. Within the interior of the settlement, three stone founded hut circles are visible. An outer wall, up to 5m wide, provides additional defence around the more vulnerable south side. There are staggered entrances through these walls in the east and ESE. The settlement was partially excavated in 1971 when a radio-carbon date indicated its construction during the later centuries of the first millennium BC. Approximately 40m south of the outer wall, there is an outwork visible as an earthen bank 4m wide and 0.7m high with an outer ditch 0.5m deep and 4m wide. The outwork was partially excavated in 1999 when details of its structural sequence were revealed. A second defended settlement known as Middle Dean camp is situated 1.8km south east of Brough Law. It occupies a promontory defined on two sides by precipitous slopes and on the north, west and north east sides by two prominent ramparts. Semi-circular in shape, the settlement has maximum dimensions of 60m north east to south west by 45m within two ramparts of earth and stone. The ramparts are 7m apart, 6m wide, and stand to a maximum height of 2m. The outer rampart retains evidence of its original outer facing stones. There is an entrance through the outer rampart in the north west side some 2.9m wide, with the remains of lining slabs in situ. A second entrance through both ramparts is visible in the eastern side. Within the enclosure, there are the remains of at least five hut circles visible as circular platforms, ranging in size from 7m to 10m in diameter. The third defended settlement is situated 900m ESE of Middledean Camp, on the summit of Wether Hill, where it commands panoramic views in all directions but the south west. Wether hillfort is sub-circular in shape and 70m in diameter within two ramparts of stone and earth. The inner rampart is a maximum of 7.4m wide and its outer scarp stands to 1.8m high. The outer rampart is 6.5m wide with an outer scarp up to 1.1m high. Entrances are visible in the north west and north east sides. Within the interior, the remains of at least 17 timber-built roundhouses and three stone-built houses are visible. The settlement is of more than one phase and spans the Early Iron Age to the Romano-British period. A trackway, thought to be contemporary with the use of the hillfort, is visible leading from the north to the western entrance of the fort; partial excavation of the trackway in 1996 showed that a natural terrace had partly been used in its construction. During the Iron Age not all of the population lived within these large nucleated defended settlements; there are also the remains of at least 15 late prehistoric or Romano-British enclosed settlements or farms which generally date from the later first century BC and the early first century AD. These farms fall into two main groupings. The first is a nucleated complex of farms situated on Haystacks Hill approximately 450m north east of Middle Dean settlement. The complex extends from the shoulder of Ewe Hill down gentle east-facing slopes, where a medieval field system has partially encroached onto the group. At least seven individual enclosed settlements have been identified here, and between and beyond several of the enclosures there are the remains of further walls and round houses which are thought to represent the partial remains of others. The settlements are visible as a series of irregularly shaped enclosures of varying sizes. The largest is rectilinear in shape and measures 75m by 32m, while the smallest, oval in shape, measures 15.5m by 12.5m. All are defined by stone walls standing to between 0.3m and 1.8m high, which are spread to between 2m and 6m wide. There are entrances through the east or south east walls of the enclosures. Most are divided internally by the remains of fragmentary banks and most contain scooped courtyards visible as prominent depressions approximately 10m across. Each enclosure also contains between two and six circular houses. The houses are visible as level circular areas ranging in size from 3.5m to 7.5m, within walls between 0.2m and 0.9m high and spread to between 2m and 4.5m wide. The second, more dispersed group of Romano-British farmsteads is situated on the south and east facing spur of Brough Law, north of Ewe Hill. At least seven individual enclosed settlements occupy an area of approximately 50 sq m. They vary in form, but are generally oval or rectilinear in shape, and some are scooped into the natural slopes. All are bounded by earth and stone walls on average 2m-3m wide, standing to between 0.5m and 1.7m high. All but one shows evidence of internal subdivision and contains the remains of stone-built round houses. A single partially enclosed settlement also survives south of the summit of Cochrane Pike. It is visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure within an earth and stone bank 0.5m high and spread to 10m wide with an outer ditch. The south side of the enclosure uses a steep natural scarp as its boundary. The enclosure contains the remains of at least seven round house platforms from 4m to 10m in diameter. Prehistoric field systems, some incorporating hut circles, funerary cairns and cairnfields are widespread. They are most visible on the gentle east and west facing slopes of Ewe Hill between the Ramshaw Burn and the River Breamish where they remain largely undisturbed by later activity. Further to the south and east, they are partially overlain by an extensive medieval field system. Two less extensive areas of prehistoric agricultural remains are situated on the east-facing slopes of both Wether Hill and Brough Law immediately below the defended settlements which occupy their summits. The prehistoric field systems are visible as small plots bounded by discontinuous banks of earth and stone; the boundaries are on average 2m to 2.5m wide and stand to between 0.3m to 0.6m high. On sloping ground, prehistoric cultivation has caused soil movement down slope and marked steps along the contour. Known as lynchets they measure approximately 2m to 3m wide and up to 0.8m high. Many of these lynchets have been enhanced giving a terraced effect. These fields form the earliest recognisable evidence for agriculture on Ingram Farm and demonstrate its occurrence on a reasonably large scale. On the ridge, which runs northwards from the defended settlement on Wether Hill, there is part of a cord rig field system; prehistoric cultivation in which crops were grown on narrow ridges subdivided by furrows. The cord rig is visible as slight earthworks approximately 1.4m wide between furrows and standing to a maximum height of 0.3m. It forms the periphery of what is thought to be a large 'smoothed area', which has been cleared of stone, and is associated with a lynchet created by soil movement from the cord rig ploughing. It is thought that the cord rig is contemporary with the defended settlement on Wether Hill. At least seven separate prehistoric cairnfields have been identified among the remains of the field systems between the Ramshaw Burn and the River Breamish. These are visible as groups of cairns sited in close proximity to one another, and built of stone cleared from surrounding areas to improve its use for agriculture. More than 200 individual cairns have been identified, many of which are thought to be associated with the field systems, and in some cases they overlie earlier lynchets or terraces. The cairnfields range in size from small groups of closely spaced cairns, to extensive dispersed groupings comprising more than 20. They are thought to consist largely of clearance cairns, but funerary cairns are also present. Most appear to be randomly placed and no obvious patterning of the cairns can be identified. In 1999 one small cairn from within this group, situated on the ridge running south of Brough Law, was partially excavated in order to establish its exact nature; the cairn was found to be deliberately constructed and is thought to be funerary in origin. As well as prehistoric settlement and agriculture, there is evidence of significant prehistoric land division on Ingram Farm. Linear boundaries are substantial earthworks comprising single or multiple ditches and banks, which extend over considerable distances. Their scale implies that they were constructed by large social groupings and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape. An extensive linear boundary runs in a north-easterly direction from Chesters Burn over Ewe Hill, through Turf Knowe, towards the present village of Ingram. Beyond the cairn on Ewe Hill, the boundary has been incorporated into the later medieval field system and is overlain by a medieval head dyke. To the west of this the boundary is visible in a variety of forms, but in general is a low earthen bank approximately 2m wide and standing to an average of 0.5m high. Granite boulders project through it in places. The linear boundary incorporates a number of Bronze Age round cairns, indicating that the boundary is later in date than the round cairns. Partial excavation in 1994 and 1995 demonstrated that the construction of the boundary differed along its length from a low earthen bank and shallow ditch to a more substantial stone wall; these differences in construction are thought to be associated with the differing land use through which it ran. A second linear boundary, visible as a substantial double-ditched linear earthwork, links the Ramshaw Burn with Middledean Burn. This is visible as a substantial, sinuous, double-banked feature with a medial ditch; each bank has been spread to approximately 4m and the ditch is between 1m to 2m wide and stands to a maximum height of 2m above the bottom of the ditch. These two major boundaries, which take account of the differing topography, serve to divide the area of the scheduling into three separate areas, each of which is occupied by one of the major Iron Age defended settlements of Brough Law, Middledean Burn and Wether Hill. It is considered that these three areas formed three prehistoric territories, which encompassed the full extent of the scheduling. A cross-ridge dyke, visible as a double banked linear earthwork with a medial ditch, is situated immediately south west of the defended settlement on Wether Hill, where it demarcates the spur of Wether Hill from Cochrane Pike. Cross ridge dykes are thought to be used as territorial markers which demarcate land within communities. It is more than 300m long, 4.5m wide and stands to a maximum height of 1.2m above the base of a ditch up to 1.2m wide. Partial excavation in 1994 identified the presence of three stake holes in the outer scarp of the north bank and found that the original profile of the ditch was a V-shape. A date of approximately 200 BC for its construction was established. A second date suggests that the dyke remained in use until at least the end of the Roman period when it was abandoned. The overall complex of post-Roman to post-medieval remains includes an extensive medieval field system, a prominent post-medieval pasture boundary and numerous seasonal huts, houses, sheep pens and shielings. By at least the mid-13th century, documentary evidence shows that Ingram was a member of the Barony of Alnwick held by Gilbert de Umfraville. Arable cultivation is thought to have been the most important aspect of agriculture at this time. The remains of an extensive field system are visible across large areas of the monument. The field system is bounded on the north by a prominent medieval head dyke which overlies and continues the course of the major prehistoric linear boundary, which runs from Chesters Burn to the north of the Ingram Hill settlement. The field system is bounded on the south by Fawdon Dean. The field system partially overlies part of the prehistoric and Romano-British remains, although in many places the boundaries of the later field system respect those of the prehistoric period, and prehistoric features are visible within and around its edges. The field system is associated with large areas of broad ridge and furrow cultivation; the ridges are between 4m and 14m wide between the centre of the furrows. Where the slopes are steep, the cultivation follows the contours forming lynchets. Lynchets are most prominent across the east face of Wether Hill above the Fawdon Burn where they are a maximum of 2m high. The remains of at least six steep terraces are visible on the steep north west facing slopes above the Middledean Burn, south of Ingram Hill settlement; they are approximately 5m to 7m wide and 1.5m high. The field banks at the edge of, and within, the ridge and furrow are up to 3m wide and stand to a height of 0.6m. On the steep north west-facing slopes of Cochrane Pike, the field system is less well developed and is thought to represent the limit of medieval cultivation. The field system extends north onto the eastern part of the Brough Law spur and beyond to the flood plain, below where its nature is defined by the constraints of the terrain. It is visible in this area as a series of small regular and irregular plots, bounded by several linear banks of roughly coursed stones 1m to 2.5m wide and between 0.3m and 0.7m high. Within these fields, extensive areas of rig and furrow are visible ranging between 5m and 12m wide between the centre of the furrows. By 1353, in common with most of Northumberland, documents record the decline of the manor due to the raids and devastation resulting from the wars with Scotland, and the effects of population decline. Fewer residents are recorded, most of whose holdings are described as being waste. The decline continued, and by the mid-17th century documents record a change from arable to pastoral agriculture. Several earthen banks are visible which overlie the medieval cultivation and are clearly later in date, one of which extends from near the Middledean defended settlement to the Ingram Hill settlement; these boundaries are interpreted as pasture boundaries and indicate that the post-medieval pastoralism occurred within large enclosures. Many rectangular buildings of varying sizes, occurring singly and in groups, are scattered across Ingram Farm; many are small, seasonally occupied huts called shielings, built to provide shelter for herdsmen and their families who tended grazing animals on summer pasture lands. Although some are thought to be early medieval in date, many are associated with this late medieval and post-medieval phase of pastoralism. The remains include longhouses and associated paddocks; two buildings situated on the north bank of Middledean Burn, overlying the medieval ridges, are typical of such buildings. They are visible as the footings of two rectangular enclosures measuring 11m and 8m by 4m respectively. Partial excavation of one of these structures in 1999 suggested that it had partially been used for iron working. Several other small groups of rectangular buildings are visible, most notably within the Middledean and Ingram Hill settlements, at the confluence of the Chesters and the Ramshaw Burn and below the steep slopes of Brough Law, above the River Breamish. A complex of rectangular structures and yards situated within the medieval field system on the west side of Middledean Burn is considered medieval in date. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all gate posts, fences lines and maintained stone walls, all feeding troughs, Ingram Hill farmstead and associated buildings and the telephone posts and cables around the northern end of the monument. However, the ground beneath these features is included. The small plantation immediately north of Middledean defended settlement is totally excluded from the scheduling; both above and below ground.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
ASUD And NAG, , 'The Breamish Valley Archaeology Project' in The Breamish Valley Archaeology Project Annual Report 2000, (2001)
ASUD And NAG, , 'The Breamish Valley Archaeology Project' in The Breamish Valley Archaeology Project Annual Report 2000, (2001)
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Title: SE Cheviot Survey 9914 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500
Title: SE Cheviot Survey NT 9914 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500
Title: SE Cheviot Survey NT 9914 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500
Title: SE Cheviot Survey Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500
Topping, P, Excavation and Survey at Wether Hill Interim reports 1994-98,


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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