Keys to the Past

The Ringses Camp on Beanley Moor (Hedgeley)

The Ringses is the remains of a 2000-year-old settlement. Ramparts and ditches still ring around the settlement and give it its present day name - The Ringses. Such ramparts and ditches are often thought of as being defensive structures designed to protect the inhabitants from attack. However, in some respects the location of this site is not well chosen for defensive purposes, being overlooked by higher ground. Instead, these massive ramparts and ditches may well be status symbols, designed to be seen from afar. They certainly represent a considerable effort in terms of labour costs. There are two entrances into the settlement, one on the east, and the other on the west. The western entrance is quite complicated. First visitors would pass through the outer ditch between two stone slabs, then the route inside dog-legged as it approached the inner wall. At a much later the date, the defences were made simpler by cutting straight through the ramparts. Inside the walls, the remains of two circular foundations can still be seen. Excavations at similar sites suggest that these are round house foundations. Such round houses were often built with stone walls and thatched roofs. As this site has not been excavated, we cannot be sure what the function was for each house, or whether additional structures may lie buried below ground. However we can conjecture that at least one building was a domestic dwelling while other structures would act as storehouses or workshops for weaving. Houses usually consisted of a central hearth with seating and bedding around the perimeter and storage for cooking utensils. Inside, the air would be thick with smoke drifting up to the ceiling and through the thatched roof. The people who lived here were probably an extended farming family grazing cattle and sheep in the surrounding fields. They may have enclosed fields nearby to hold their animals and the surrounding fields do show evidence of a field system that includes cord rig plough marks. The people who lived here must have had considerable resources or power in order to command such impressive looking defences. There are other similar settlements in the vicinity, although we cannot be sure they were exactly contemporary with the Ringses, but one could imagine smoke from a number of household hearths dotted around the surrounding landscape. The Ringses Camp is a Scheduled Monument, protected by law.

Reference number:N3145
Historical period: Roman (43 to 410)
Iron Age (800BC to 43AD)
Legal status:Scheduled Ancient Monument
Event(s):FIELD SURVEY, Beanley Estate Survey 1994; NEWCASTLE CITY ARCHAEOLOGICAL UNIT
FIELD SURVEY, Hill forts and settlements in Northumberland ; G Jobey

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Hedgeley


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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.