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Romano-British farmstead in Riding Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Bellingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1554 / 55°9'19"N

Longitude: -2.2871 / 2°17'13"W

OS Eastings: 381801.445744

OS Northings: 584598.925462

OS Grid: NY818845

Mapcode National: GBR D8GT.NR

Mapcode Global: WH905.VP25

Entry Name: Romano-British farmstead in Riding Wood

Scheduled Date: 26 July 1973

Last Amended: 3 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008986

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25071

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Bellingham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Bellingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a farmstead of Romano-British date
situated on the top of a ridge commanding views over the North Tyne to the
south and south west. The farmstead, sub-rectangular in shape, measures 42m
east to west by 37m north to south within a broad ditch 6m wide and 1.2m deep
below the interior ground level. There are traces of an inner bank of stone
and earth on the eastern side of the enclosure. The ditch is surrounded by a
counterscarp bank 4m wide, best preserved at the south east end of the
enclosure. Within the eastern half of the enclosure there are two sunken
yards, visible as sub-circular depressions a maximum of 1m deep. They are
separated by a raised causeway which enters the enclosure through an entrance
in its eastern wall. Immediately behind the yard, there are the remains of at
least four circular stone houses 7m-8m in diameter. Limited excavation of the
farmstead in 1958 by Professor George Jobey revealed that the two sunken yards
were walled and contained subsidiary entrances; their floors were found to be
set with cobbles. The stone huts were found to have flagged floors and
contained reddened hearths and small stone lined storage pits; one of the
latter contained part of a Roman pottery flagon. Other finds included an iron
adze, found in one of the yards, a spindle whorl and pieces of quernstone used
for the grinding of corn. All of these artefacts are thought to be Iron Age or
Roman in date. A rectangular house was discovered on excavation to be of later
construction as it was built over the remains of a circular stone house, whose
walls had been robbed to provide the building stone. It is thought that this
structure represents resettlement of the farmstead in post Roman times and is
associated with a later field system around the farmstead.

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 farmstead in Riding Wood is well preserved and retains significant
archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of similar Romano-British
settlements in the area and will contribute to any study of the settlement
pattern at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
MacLaughlan, H, Additional Notes on Roman Roads in Northumberland, (1867), 71-2
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960)
NY 88 SW 01,

Source: Historic England

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