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Romano-British farmstead, 520m north east of Birtley Shields

A Scheduled Monument in Birtley, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.109 / 55°6'32"N

Longitude: -2.1975 / 2°11'50"W

OS Eastings: 387499.12319

OS Northings: 579416.003977

OS Grid: NY874794

Mapcode National: GBR F93C.1C

Mapcode Global: WHB1K.6VV7

Entry Name: Romano-British farmstead, 520m north east of Birtley Shields

Scheduled Date: 19 January 1970

Last Amended: 21 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009676

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25116

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Birtley

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Birtley St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the remains of a farmstead of Romano-British date
situated on the edge of a steep drop above the Linn Burn. The farmstead,
sub-rectangular in shape, measures internally 43m east to west by 62m north to
south. It is enclosed on the north, south and east sides by a bank of stone
and earth 4m wide and on average 1.5m high above an outer ditch. The outer
ditch is well defined on the north and east sides of the enclosure and is on
average 6m wide. The enclosure is afforded good natural defence on the west
side where there is a steep drop to the stream below. At the south west angle
of the enclosure however, there are traces of a scarped bank which continues
around the west side of the precipice for a short length. There is an entrance
through the western side of the south wall and within the enclosure there are
the remains of at least two circular stone-founded houses in the centre of the
settlement. The stone plantation wall and fence line which cross the monument
from north to south are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath
these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 near Birtley Shields is reasonably 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

Sources

Books and journals
MacLaughlan, H, Additional Notes on Roman Roads in Northumberland, (1867), 77
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 11' in A New List of the Native Sites of Northumberland, (1946), 174
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960), 32
Other
NY 87 NE 21,

Source: Historic England

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