Humbleton Hill (NT967283) is often the first hill a visitor to the Wooler area decides to climb. There is an obvious path visible up the Eastern side (although this is not the best route up) and a clamber to the top is well worth the effort, rewarded by the scenery and a very impressive Hillfort.
Humbleton Hill itself reaches a height of 289m. It does not merge with any other nearby hill and stands alone. The climb from any point at its base on the Milfield plain is one of over 230m and the sides are steep. Notably, the hill is separated from the rolling Cheviot moors on the south side by a deep and dramatic ‘V’ shaped cleugh, or cleft, formed by glacial meltwater and virtually unclimbable. The name, Humbleton, has had many variations in spelling over the years but is derived from the old English ‘Hameldun’ which simply means ‘cleft hill’.
Essential to a defensive location, the views from the top of the hill do not disappoint. There are extensive and dramatic views over the Cheviot Hills to the South. To the North, there is a wide view over the Milfield plain up into Scotland and the Lammamuir hills. On the Eastern side, there are good views out to the Northumberland coast.
To the West (see photograph at the top of this page) the hill overlooks the Cheviot foothills and the double-peaked bulk of Yeavering Bell looms up impressively over the gash of Monday Cleugh, another meltwater cleft.
Humbleton Hill was formed in the Devonian period, some 350 million years ago in the violent volcanic eruptions which created the entire Cheviot range. Andesite, the igneous bedrock of these Hills, appears as craggy outcrops on the upper slopes of Humbleton and has been incorporated into the defences on the hill and quarried for use in constructing the walls and dwellings.
As well as this there is an abundance of loose or ‘scree’ material, as in the cleugh, available for building.
These factors single out Humbleton hill as a prime site for strategic defensive construction.