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Skirsgill Romano-British enclosed stone hut circle settlement, Romano-British farmstead, and Romano-British regular aggregate field system

A Scheduled Monument in Askham, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6021 / 54°36'7"N

Longitude: -2.7769 / 2°46'36"W

OS Eastings: 349908.231608

OS Northings: 523265.786056

OS Grid: NY499232

Mapcode National: GBR 9H17.L2

Mapcode Global: WH81J.9LXB

Entry Name: Skirsgill Romano-British enclosed stone hut circle settlement, Romano-British farmstead, and Romano-British regular aggregate field system

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1938

Last Amended: 21 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007414

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22517

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Askham

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Askham with Lowther

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a Romano-British enclosed stone hut circle settlement, a
smaller Romano-British farmstead, and a Romano-British regular aggregate field
system. It is located on the east facing slopes of Skirsgill Hill. The
enclosed stone hut circle settlement includes an oval enclosure bank 2.5m wide
and up to 0.5m high that is sub-divided into three distinct areas. The
southern section contains two irregularly-shaped sub-enclosures or stock pens
separated from the middle section by a line of low limestone outcrop. There is
an entrance to the westerly of these sub-enclosures through the south-west
side of the enclosure bank. The middle section contains five hut circles - the
largest having a diameter of 5.4m - and a rectilinear structure. The main
entrance is located in the east side of the enclosure bank but a secondary
entrance also lies on the west side. The northern section of the settlement
contains four irregularly-shaped sub-enclosures or stock pens. Three of these
sub-enclosures have entrances through the enclosure bank. The western sub-
enclosure also has an entrance from the middle section. Access to the fourth
sub-enclosure is from the westerly sub-enclosure. A narrow track and bank
flanks the enclosure on the south and west sides, and rectilinear earthworks
flank the enclosure on its south-west and north-east sides.
Approximately 270m to the north-east of this enclosed stone hut circle
settlement is a smaller Romano-British farmstead located on the level top of a
flat spur. This includes a roughly circular enclosure bank sub-divided into
four irregularly-shaped enclosures or stock pens, two of which contain hut
circles which abut the main enclosure wall. The farmstead is approached from
the east by a slightly sunken track with traces of walls on either side, the
north wall of which continues to form the main enclosure wall of the
farmstead. There are other lengths of wall to the north and west of the
On slightly lower ground between the enclosed stone hut circle settlement and
the farmstead are traces of a Romano-British regular aggregate field system.
This field system includes three groups of lynchets, one group approximately
65m long running north-south and abutting onto a second group up to 120m long
running east-west, with a third group up to 75m long aligned north-east -
The monument would have been in use during the Roman occupation of the north.
It lies within an area occupied by the Carvetii tribe.
All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

In Cumbria and Northumberland several distinctive types of native settlements
dating to the Roman period have been identified. The majority were small, non-
defensive, enclosed homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone
construction, although in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also
common. In much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures
were curvilinear in form. Further south a rectangular form was more common.
Elsewhere, especially near the Scottish border, another type occurs where the
settlement enclosure was `scooped' into the hillslope. Frequently the
enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. The standard
layout included one or more stone round-houses situated towards the rear of
the enclosure, facing the single entranceway. In front of the houses were
pathways and small enclosed yards. Homesteads normally had only one or two
houses, but larger enclosures could contain as many as six. At some sites the
settlement appears to have grown, often with houses spilling out of the main
enclosure and clustered around it. At these sites up to 30 houses may be
found. In the Cumbrian uplands the settlements were of less regimented form
and unenclosed clusters of houses of broadly contemporary date are also known.
These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman natives
throughout the period of the Roman occupation. Their origins lie in settlement
forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. These homesteads are common
throughout the uplands where they frequently survive as well-preserved
earthworks. In lowland coastal areas they were also originally common,
although there they can frequently only be located through aerial photography.
All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be
identified as nationally important.

The monument is a rare example in Cumbria of a juxtaposed Romano-British
enclosed stone hut circle settlement, Romano-British farmstead, and a
Romano-British regular aggregate field system. The earthworks survive well,
preserve considerable detail of the layout of the site, and will facilitate
the study of Romano-British settlement patterns in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 38
Spence, J E, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in An Early Settlement Near Askham, (1935), 61-6
Spence, J E, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in An Early Settlement Near Askham, (1935), 61-6
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)

Source: Historic England

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