Ancient Monuments

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Manside defended settlement and medieval cross

A Scheduled Monument in Elsdon, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2229 / 55°13'22"N

Longitude: -2.0255 / 2°1'31"W

OS Eastings: 398475.082029

OS Northings: 592074.569342

OS Grid: NY984920

Mapcode National: GBR G891.8K

Mapcode Global: WHB11.VZNF

Entry Name: Manside defended settlement and medieval cross

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Last Amended: 25 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007521

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21035

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Elsdon

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Cambo Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement and a medieval cross
situated in an elevated position on the eastern end of a ridge. The
settlement, rectangular in shape, is 55m east-west by 58m north-south, within
three ramparts of earth and stone separated by two ditches. All three ramparts
are very well preserved and are on average 1m high and 6m wide. The ditches
are between 6m to 9m wide and are on average 1m deep. The settlement was
partially excavated in 1959 and 1960; it was shown that all three of the
ramparts were faced with a stone revetment on the sides facing the ditches and
that the innermost ditch was the earliest of the two. A wooden fence or
palisade had been constructed upon the outermost rampart. Excavation also
uncovered the foundations of two stone round houses within the interior and
two pieces of Roman pottery dated to the second century AD. The settlement was
clearly occupied in the Roman period but the existence of a palisade and
multiple ramparts suggests that the monument may be of more than one phase and
it is thought to have its origins in the prehistoric period immediately
preceding the Roman invasion of Britain.

Immediately outside the north east angle of the settlement there is the socket
stone of a medieval cross; it is rectangular in shape and measures 87cm by
76cm and is 52cm high. There is a socket hole in the centre 21cm deep. In the
socket there is a stone shaft which is thought to be the remains of the
medieval cross reused in post-medieval times as a boundary stone when modern
initials were carved onto one of its surfaces. Manside cross is first
mentioned in the Border Survey of 1604 when it is referred to as Manns' Head,
and is also depicted on later maps.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 medieval cross at Manside is thought to be an example of a wayside cross.
These form one of several types of Christian crosses erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th-15th centuries AD. In addition to their
function of reinforcing the Christian faith amongst those who passed the
cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside crosses often fulfilled a role
as waymarkers, especially in a difficult and unmarked terrain. The crosses
might be on regularly used routes linking ordinary settlements or on routes
which might have a more specifically religious function, including those
providing access to religious sites for parishioners and funeral processions.
All wayside crosses which survive as earth-fast monuments, except those which
are extremely damaged and removed from their original locations, will normally
be identified as nationally important.

The settlement at Manside survives exceptionally well and retains significant
archaeological deposits. It is one of very few multiple ditched Romano-British
monuments in Northumberland; its unusual form is of added interest and it will
contribute to any study of late prehistoric and Romano-British settlement and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940), 56
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 3 ser 10' in A New List of the Native Sites in Northumberland, (1947), 169
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960), 33
NY 99 SE 05,
NY 99 SE 06,

Source: Historic England

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