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Tyne and Wear HER(1330): Morley Hill, ditched enclosures - Details

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Morley Hill, ditched enclosures

Morley Hill




Double Ditched Enclosure


Iron Age

Physical Evidence

There is evidence for a site in the field north-east of Morley Hill farm. The APs suggest cropmarks of ditches, perhaps two running parallel, and a corner or corners, but a note written after a site visit records "the remains of two earthworks... Parts of 2 sides of one (site) and of 3 sides of second, showing as slight ditches only. Top half of a bun-shaped quern is lying about". The APs, and sketch of earthworks do not agree. Probable traces of bell-pits also {1-3}. Evaluation in 2015 identified two enclosed settlements with a possible third to the east. A double enclosed settlement was identified in several trenches - the outer enclosure ditch with an entranceway to the settlement. An Iron Age sherd of pottery was recovered and a radiocarbon date of 47BC-120AD was produced from charcoal within the ditch. The second settlement, 120m east of the first, was rectilinear in shape. Internal features included multi-phase drainage likely to be the prinicipal roundhouse of the enclosure. A radiocarbon date of 374BC-181BC was produced. A third, less defined, enclosure was also identifed. Archaeological excavation of two prehistoric enclosures 2017. Enclosure 1, which survives as a low earthwork was not at threat from development and so was left in-situ. Enclosure 2 was trapezium-shaped and enclosed four roundhouses . The entrance was on the southern side. The enclosure ditch measured between 3.5m and 5.5m wide and was between 1.43m and 2.13m deep. Two ditches extended from the north-west and north-east corners of the main enclosure ditch. These ditches were narrower (2.3m) and shallower (0.96m) than the main enclosure ditch. Three irregular post holes may represent a wattle fence. A 6m long curvilinear gully up to 0.4m wide and 0.26m deep produced a small Bronze Age barbed and tanged arrowhead from its fill. It has yet to be established if the arrowhead is residual or not. A small Neolithic axehead was recovered from the fill of an irregular pit 0.9m x 0.64m and 0.17m deep. Three pits were found outside the enclosure. Two parallel ditches were recorded north-west of the enclosure. They possibly lay either side of a trackway and are probably medieval or post medieval in date. Enclosure 3 (which extended beyond the development site) enclosed eight roundhouses. The entrance was in the south-east. The enclosure ditch was up to 5m wide and 1.55m deep. A layer of scattered stone at the entrance may represent a metalled surface. As well as roundhouses, the enclosure also contained pits and gullies. A large shallow pit 6.58m x 2.52m and 0.1m deep had Iron Age pottery and bone in its fill. Two narrow (0.33m) and shallow (0.27m) gullies may represent a horn-like wall/fence in front of the entrance to structure 18 which had a ring-gully enclosing a 10m diameter space. Structure 18 was truncated by two curvilinear ditches which contained sheep or goat bone and fired clay material from a hearth in their fills. The ditches probably conveyed water into the main enclosure ditch. More animal bone was recovered from the fill of the ring-gully of structure 21. Structure 23 had no gap for an entrance and was smaller than the other roundhouses. It might have had a non-domestic function. A large but shallow ditch 3.3m wide and 0.33m deep ran NW-SE across the site, meeting the south-east corner of enclosure 3. It probably functioned as an overflow for the main enclosure ditch, directing excess water downslope away from the settlement. The area between this ditch and an L-shaped ditch to the east enclosed another twelve ring-gullies, pits and post holes. Palaeo-environmental assessment of a small selection of samples has yielded cereal grain (barley, spelt wheat and bread/club wheat), charred weed seeds, a fragment of hazel nutshell, an indeterminate tuber, wood charcoal. The small assemblage of animal bone comprised cattle and sheep or goat and a horse tooth. A small assemblage of burnt bone was also recovered




<< HER 1330 >> Aerial Photograph, N. McCord,1967, Morley Hill, 1 Aug., G.050190.42-43; A.050756.25-26, 28-32 -Museum of Antiquities Archaeological record cards, BH, 1977, Morley Hill, NZ27SW8; R. Miket, 1984, The Prehistory of Tyne and Wear, p. 47 no. 5; RSK Environment, 2000, Proposed Prestwick Carr to Brunton Natural Gas Pipeline, p 17; Tyne and Wear Museums, 2013, Land at Morley Hill Farm, Hazlerigg, Tyne and Wear, Archaeological Assessment; AD Archaeology, 2014, Additional land at Morley Hill Farm, Hazlerigg - Geophysical Survey; AD Archaeology, 2015, Morley Hill farm, Hazelrigg - Archaeological Evaluation; Headland Archaeology, August 2018, Enclosed Iron Age Settlements on Land East of Morley Hill Farm, Hazlerigg, Newcastle upon Tyne - Excavation

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