Keys to the Past

Huckhoe (Belsay)

This monument includes the remains of a settlement at least four phases of occupation beginning in the sixth century BC and lasting until at least the sixth century AD. It is situated in a clearly defensive position on the edge of an oval promontory above a tributary of the River Wansbeck, and defended by steep slopes on the north and west sides. The visible remains today are of an enclosure measuring 94m north east to south west by 72m north west to south east defined on all sides by a low bank of stone and earth 3m wide and 0.5m high. There is an entrance through the eastern side of the enclosure 5m wide. Within the enclosure there are indistinct traces of at least two round houses and associated walled enclosures. The remains of habitation which are visible at Huckhoe are considered to represent Romano-British re-occupation of an Iron Age defended settlement.

This earlier settlement consisted of two stone-faced ramparts; the outer rampart is visible only on the south and east sides of the enclosure some 10m outside the inner and is 4m wide and stands to a height of 0.8m. There are traces of a surrounding ditch, visible as a shallow depression on the south-eastern side. Excavations at this monument between 1955 and 1957 revealed an even earlier phase of settlement.

Lying beneath the later Iron Age defended settlement and the subsequent Romano-British settlement there was an Early Iron Age palisaded enclosure. This consisted of three concentric palisades or wooden stockades of oak. These palisades have been dated securely by radiocarbon dating to the sixth century BC. During the excavations pieces of Romano-British pottery were discovered. Of particular note was the discovery of an unusually high amount of iron slag along with what is identified as an iron worker's hearth. This has led to the interpretation of the Romano-British phase at Huckhoe as a second century iron working site.

During the excavations at Huckhoe the remains of one rectangular and two sub-rectangular buildings were uncovered and interpreted as post Roman houses. They were constructed on the levelled remains of one of the Romano-British houses and on the tumbled remains of the main enclosure wall respectively. The re-occupation of prehistoric and Roman settlements in the post Roman period has been noted at other sites in Northumberland. This is a Scheduled Monument protected by law.

Reference number:N10579
Historical period: Roman (43 to 410)
Iron Age (800BC to 43AD)
Legal status:Scheduled Ancient Monument
Event(s):FIELD OBSERVATION, Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigation 1968; B H Pritchard
FIELD SURVEY, Hill forts and settlements in Northumberland ; G Jobey

See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Belsay

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.