‘The huts are now roofless, the fires of the hearths quenched for ever, the fortifications levelled; yet these ruins have out-lasted the erections of more civilized times, and they still remain to tell us something of the busy population who hunted, tended flocks, tilled the ground, and quarrelled and fought, at a very distant period (in the valley of the Breamish)’. George Tate (1863, 302)
This paper describes the results of the South East Cheviots Project undertaken by the former Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME; now part of English Heritage) during the 1980s. An area of 66 square kilometres was analytically recorded, ranging from the Breamish Valley in the north to Alnham in the south and from Brandon in the east to Schill Moor in the west. The project recorded with metrical accuracy all forms of cultivation remains, field systems, and settlements of all periods (only the prehistoric evidence will be reviewed in this paper). This landscape approach has led to a greater understanding of settlement histories in these remarkably well-preserved uplands. Recent excavations undertaken by the Northumberland Archaeological Group (NAG) and Durham University, under the auspices of the Northumberland National Park Authority (NNPA), have helped to clarify and contextualise further aspects of the chronology of settlement and landscape change recorded by the SECP.