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Enclosed settlement and subsidiary enclosures 160m north of Ring Chesters defended settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5559 / 55°33'21"N

Longitude: -2.2134 / 2°12'48"W

OS Eastings: 386634.383078

OS Northings: 629152.548547

OS Grid: NT866291

Mapcode National: GBR D4Z6.L6

Mapcode Global: WH9ZD.ZM54

Entry Name: Enclosed settlement and subsidiary enclosures 160m N of Ring Chesters defended settlement

Scheduled Date: 18 June 1969

Last Amended: 8 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009527

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24579

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 and associated enclosures dating to
the Roman period. It is situated 160m north of Ring Chesters defended
settlement, approximately mid-way down the hill slope. The monument consists
of two adjacent oval enclosures defined by earth and stone banks and partially
scooped into the hillside and a small rectangular enclosure. The southern
enclosure formed the main settlement. It contains the remains of interior
banks, courtyards and the circular stone foundations of several prehistoric
buildings. The northern enclosure has the remains of a small building abutting
the exterior on the south side. The rectangular enclosure lies immediately to
the south west of the main settlement enclosure and may have functioned as a
stock pen. The enclosures overlie the terracing of an earlier field system
apparently associated with Ring Chesters defended settlement. The full extent
and nature of this field system is not yet fully understood, hence it is not
included in the scheduling.

The southernmost oval enclosure is situated on the southern tip of a slight
ridge which runs longitudinally NNW-SSE down the north slope of the hill from
Ring Chesters. The site is slightly scooped into the ridge to form a level
platform, the tip of the natural ridge forms an apron of steep ground to the
west of the enclosure. This enclosure forms the main settlement. It encloses a
sub-oval area, 60m long and up to 35m wide, and is surrounded by an earth and
stone bank 3m wide and up to 1.5m high. The outer face of the enclosure bank
is revetted with large boulders. A slight trace of a quarry ditch is visible
outside the bank on the south side. The south east side of the enclosure is
scooped into the hillside to a depth of 1m and does not have an exterior bank.
Two entrances are visible, the main one is in the north east corner of
the enclosure, and a second is situated mid-way along the northern bank. The
interior of the enclosure is divided into two equal sized compartments by a
wide bank. The southern compartment contains the stone foundations of seven
prehistoric buildings between 5m and 7.5m in diameter. The buildings are
clustered around a small scooped courtyard which opens into a larger courtyard
formed by the northern compartment. Two further stone founded hut circles have
been built within the enclosure bank to the east of the northern compartment.
The entrances to these buildings face outwards from the settlement and the
buildings appear to be secondary.
A second, smaller, oval enclosure lies c.16m to the north of the above
settlement. This site includes an area of 34m by 24m enclosed within an earth
and stone bank 3m-4m wide and up to 1m high. The enclosure overlies a set of
earlier cultivation terraces which follow the contour of the hill. The south
edge of the enclosure is scooped into the hillside and appears to be re-using
the line of one of the earlier cultivation terraces, there is no external bank
on this side. There is an entrance at the east end. Within the northern
section of the enclosure there is a low bank c.13m long aligned SE-NW. Slight
traces of the earlier cultivation terraces within the enclosure indicate that
it was not used for domestic purposes but may have been a stock enclosure for
the main settlement. The circular stone foundations of a building or small pen
7m in diameter are appended to the exterior of the bank on the south west
At the foot of the ridge of high ground on which the main settlement enclosure
is constructed are a series of low, stone revetted banks up to 2m wide. These
form part of a rectangular enclosure 17m by 14m with a slightly curving
internal bank. This is associated with the main settlement and may have
functioned as a small stock enclosure.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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 enclosures to the north of Ring Chesters defended settlement form a well
preserved example of a Roman period native settlement and associated
enclosures. The entire circuits of the two main enclosures are clearly
visible, as are the interior scoops, hut circle foundations and associated
yards of the main settlement. The interior of the northernmost enclosure also
preserves an important relationship with earlier land use. 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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