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Farmstead and cultivation terraces, ENE of Stawhouse

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5684 / 55°34'6"N

Longitude: -2.1703 / 2°10'13"W

OS Eastings: 389358.813149

OS Northings: 630536.976288

OS Grid: NT893305

Mapcode National: GBR F481.YQ

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.M9RJ

Entry Name: Farmstead and cultivation terraces, ENE of Stawhouse

Scheduled Date: 17 April 1951

Last Amended: 16 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008505

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24571

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


The monument includes a Roman period native settlement and surrounding
cultivation terraces situated at the foot of White Hill and north of a
plantation near Stawhouse.
The location has fine views to the south, but is overlooked to the north. An
earthwork oval enclosure surrounded by a single rampart encloses an area of
approximately 0.15ha which is divided by internal banks into four areas. The
northern two enclosures consist of two scooped enclosures and the southern
enclosures consist of two enclosed yards. The south west enclosed yard
measures 11.4m x 13.7m and encloses a later rectangular foundation within
it. The rectangular foundation is 8.8m x 7.3m. The scooped enclosures in the
northern half of the monument measure 14m in diameter and 15m in diameter. The
remaining south east enclosure measures 20m x 10m. An additional bank exists
to the south of the site and overlies one of the cultivation terraces
indicating that the cultivation terraces are earlier in date than the
The cultivation terraces are south facing and are located on either side of
the settlement and to the north of it. The use of the terracing appears to
culminate with the building of the settlement. The terracing follows the
contours of the hill and each terrace varies in width from 3m to 5m and
stretches across an area 400m long.

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.

Cultivation terraces are artificially created platforms found on hillslopes,
and providing these with a stepped profile. They were created by ploughing
around the hillslope following the contours. The effect of this ploughing was
to cut into the hillslope and to spread soil out on to the downslope to form a
level platform which could then be used for cultivation. Such contour
ploughing prevented major soil erosion on the hillslope and probably also
helped retain moisture. Such terraced field systems originated in the
prehistoric period; they are found particularly in Northumberland and
neighbouring Scottish border counties. They are one of the relatively few
types of prehistoric field system which survive and are important for studies
of prehistoric land use and agricultural practices.
The relationship between the terracing and the settlement is particularly
important as the settlement clearly overlies the cultivation terracing
indicating that the terracing is earlier in date than the settlement. Well
preserved prehistoric field systems are rare nationally. They provide
important evidence of a carefully planned reorganisation of landscape and
these particular examples are substantially intact and in good condition.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Topping, P, 'Northern Archaeology 4, part 1' in Stratigraphy of Early Agricultural Remains in Kirknewton Area, , Vol. Vol 4, 1, (1983), 25

Source: Historic England

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