The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Howick Hillfort



Visted the site on a cold December day with a wild sea and lots of mud on pathways! The route I took to and from the hillfort is shown in the images for this site.

Easiest access is from the Northumberland coastal path/national bike route. Park on the flat grass next to the road on the access to Seahouses Farm, just at the 90 degree turn in the road.

Walk south, through the first set of gates along the bike route down a local byway, clearly marked on the OS map. Although part of a national cycle route this is a farm track and is very muddy in the winter.

Through 2nd set of gates and the views to the sea open up on the left. Although the sea would have been much farther out in prehistory this would have been the first high ground ancient people would have met, coming West from the sea. In the distance you can see the roundhouse reconstruction close by the site of the oldest house found in the UK.

After a visit to the roundhouse (which has a couple of nice text and picture boards outside) you continue south through the 3rd set of gates.

Look diagonally across the field on the right at this point and you will see Howick Hillfort on the horizon before the woodland.

Follow the path down the hill towards the burn, at the bottom of the hill there is a gateway, look to the right and there is a small gate in the fence with a footpath marker "Howick Hillfort". Also a "Beware of the Bull" sign - so check before you go a walking!

Through the gate and follow the fence on your left up towards the hill fort, access via a clear path past what looks like a small recent quarry full of farm rubbish.

At the top of the hill the rampart is clear and easy to see. About 3m wide and still standing 1m or so high, the whole extent of the site is easy to see. The rampart looks to be of stone construction and what looks like like two courses of stone construction are clear due to erosion on the south side.

There are possible entrance gaps to the North East and South West and a possible outer ditch to the North/North West. There are signs of a possible excavation of the rampart just North of the North Eastern "entrance" where a rough rectangular feature crosses the rampart (possible section through the rampart?).

The site is well protected by a natural slope to the South and there is no sign of a ditch there. To the North the ground is very flat and it looks like there was a single ditch to add to the defenses at this point. This "hillfort" seems very similar to a number of lowland sites in the area, being similar in size, close to a local stream/river and using the steep slopes created near the river on one side as part of the defensive construction of the site.

There are no obvious signs of any features inside the rampart.

Return back to the coastal path. As an alternative to retracing your steps up the coastal past go south through the bike route gateway at this point and turn immediately left to join the marked "Northumberland Coastal Pathway".

This takes you along the edge of the high ground with great views out to sea - there was a wild Easterly blowing and a heavy sea when I visited and this sort of walk is what "Bracing" is about!

Along this path you come down to a small beach. At low tide the sand/grit stone rock outcrops here have clear signs of fossilised wave action from tides or stream action, look for the flat rock between the beach and the sea.

After the small beach the path gets wider and you go across two stiles. At the second stile there is a gap in the ground to the right with a view out to sea. Turn 45 degrees right here and go up the path to the top of the high ground. Where the path meets the gorse there is a partially covered rock on the righ with a possible cup mark.

At the top of the high ground there are great views down on Rumbling Kern

Rejoin the path and climb up the hill to the farm track, turn left through the gate and walk back to the car at the road ahead. Look to the North West at this point and the high ground on the horizon (Hips Heugh) has clear signs of earthworks. According to keys to the past these date from the middle ages

A nice short walk (60-90mins), no steep climbs but can be very muddy in winter.
mascot Posted by mascot
31st December 2009ce
Edited 6th January 2010ce

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