Hethpool : Bronze Age (2000 BC – 700 BC)
The SMR records two cairns on the Cheviot escarpment east of Mid Hill at NT 883288 and NT 882288, which are likely to be of Bronze Age date. Both cairns are positioned prominently so as to overlook, or be seen from, many parts of the landscape, something which seems to have been considered particularly important to Neolithic and Bronze Age societies. The former is not well preserved and the slight hollow in the centre suggest that it may have been excavated, perhaps in the 19th century, though no record was made. The latter is better preserved and is situated close to a defended settlement, probably of Iron Age date, and an enclosed homestead, probably of Romano-British date, which may indicate some continuity of occupation at the site. Both of these cairns may have contained burials, perhaps within a cist (slab lined burial chamber) similar to those excavated in 1929 at Coldsmouth Hill (NT 856281).
On the hill slopes northwest of Hethpool village are the very extensive and well-preserved remains of field systems, including cultivation terraces, narrow rig contour ploughing and cross-contour ridge and furrow cultivation. Although field systems are difficult to date precisely, an idea of their relative chronology can often be arrived at through careful observation. On the slopes of White Hill and Laddies Knowe, it has been demonstrated that the cultivation terraces are likely to be at least pre-medieval in date, as they are cut by medieval ridge and furrow cultivation in several places (e.g. NT 895287 and NT890288).
Additionally, at NT 883289, the terraces seem to have respected the boundaries of an Iron Age bivallate hillfort (NSMR 641), which indicates that both were in contemporaneous use (Topping 1983, 29). The hut circle at NT 885288 overlies one of the upper terraces, and so must postdate its period of use, and, if the terracing proceeded upward, would postdate all of the terraces. The hut circle may be Bronze or Iron Age, though it is impossible to tell which without excavation (ibid). Consequently, it is likely that these field systems are of Bronze or Iron Age origin.
The field systems in this area, along with the vast expanse of cultivation remains to the north and west between Mid Hill and the hillfort at Ring Chesters, are some of the best preserved of their kind, and offer great potential to enhance out understanding of the prehistoric settlement of upland landscapes. Features associated with the field systems, such as the hut circle and the bivallate hillfort (NSMR 641) are of great importance, since they provide the key to the dating of the whole complex. This could easily be achieved through a small amount of targeted excavation. As so few prehistoric settlements are well dated, such work would have the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of the prehistory of the region.