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Roman period native settlement 200m SSE of Staw Hill defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5624 / 55°33'44"N

Longitude: -2.1824 / 2°10'56"W

OS Eastings: 388590.864684

OS Northings: 629867.416996

OS Grid: NT885298

Mapcode National: GBR F463.9W

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.FGZ5

Entry Name: Roman period native settlement 200m SSE of Staw Hill defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 22 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008219

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24570

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Kirknewton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


This monument includes a native settlement dating to the Roman period situated
on the lower slopes of Staw Hill. It consists of two adjacent enclosures of
earth and stone banks. The enclosures contain several areas scooped into the
hillside to provide level ground, associated with which are the circular stone
foundations of several prehistoric buildings. The terracing of an apparently
contemporary field system can be seen on the hill slope to the north of the
sites. The full extent and nature of this field system is not yet fully
understood, hence it is not included in the scheduling.

The northernmost enclosure consists of a complex of scooped depressions cut
into the hillside at different levels. It covers a sub-rectangular area, 42m
by 47m, contained within a bank of earth and stone, 2m by 5m wide, with a
maximum height of 0.8m. The outer bank has suffered some damage on the north
west side but is still clearly visible, with each face in this section clearly
defined by a regular row of large boulders. The entrance into the enclosure
faces south east. Within the enclosure are three main sub-divisions, each
consisting of a roughly circular area scooped into the hillside to a depth of
between 1m and 2.5m and between 15m and 25m in diameter. The largest scooped
area to the east has an entrance through the enclosing bank on the north east
side and is divided by an internal bank. A stone-founded hut circle,
contemporary with the internal bank, opens into the enclosed yard which it
forms. The entrances of both this hut circle and the yard are to the north
east. A second hut circle, situated within the entrance of the yard, is almost
certainly secondary. A third hut circle lies immediately to the west of the
large scooped enclosure and opens into a smaller scooped area.

Seven metres to the south of the above enclosure is a second settlement. This
is a roughly oval-shaped enclosure, c.47m by 42m, contained by a bank of earth
and stones, 3m by 5m wide, with a maximum height of 0.8m. The enclosing banks
form a bottle-neck entrance to the north east with traces of revetting at the
terminals. On the east side of the interior are two areas scooped into the
hillside. The northernmost scoop is a semi-circular area, c.15m in diameter
and entered through the bottle-neck entrance. To the south of this is an oval
scooped area, c.30m long, with a maximum depth of 1.2m. To the rear of the
southern scoop is a contemporary hut circle, 8m in diameter, which opens into
the yard formed by the scoop. The entrances to both these features face north
east. A second stone-founded hut circle, 5m in diameter, is situated within
the entrance to the scooped yard and is clearly secondary.

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 two enclosures on the southern slopes of Staw Hill form a well preserved
example of a Roman period native settlement. The entire circuit of the
exterior banks, interior scoops, hut circle foundations and associated
yards is clearly visible. The site is situated within an area of clustered
archaeological sites of high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological
landscape. It will contribute to the study of the wider settlement pattern
during this period.

Source: Historic England

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