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Romano-British settlement, 300m north of The Heugh

A Scheduled Monument in Birtley, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1207 / 55°7'14"N

Longitude: -2.2025 / 2°12'9"W

OS Eastings: 387181.148116

OS Northings: 580719.682562

OS Grid: NY871807

Mapcode National: GBR F917.Y5

Mapcode Global: WHB1K.4KG8

Entry Name: Romano-British settlement, 300m north of The Heugh

Scheduled Date: 19 October 1960

Last Amended: 12 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010045

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25130

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


The monument includes the remains of a settlement of Romano-British date,
situated above the confluence of two deeply incised streams on the left bank
of the River North Tyne. The settlement, sub-rectangular in shape, measures a
maximum of 62m east to west by 86m north to south within two ramparts of stone
and earth and a medial ditch. The surrounding ditch, very well defined for
most of its circuit, is on average 5m wide and a maximum of 1.8m deep. Within
the ditch there is an inner rampart, now only visible in places and best
preserved on the south side where it is constructed of large blocks of stone.
Here, it is 3m wide and stands to a height of 1.3m. Outside the ditch there
are traces of a second rampart best preserved on the eastern side of the
enclosure. There is an entrance in the centre of the eastern wall from where
traces of two parallel banks 0.2m high lead into the centre of the enclosure.
Situated at the centre of the enclosure there is one of at least six
stone-founded circular houses; it is 13m in diameter and stands to 0.5m high.
The remainder of the houses, all but one of which are situated in the southern
half of the enclosure, are constructed of stone and earth walls standing to
0.5m high and measure between 3m and 12m in diameter. One of the houses was
partially excavated in the 1870s when the interior was found to have a stone
flagged floor and a fireplace formed of seven stone slabs set on edge with a
hearth stone 70cm by 40cm.

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 settlement 300m north of The Heugh 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
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 11' in A New List of the Native Sites of Northumberland, (1946), 173
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectilinear Sites of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1961)
Rome-Hall, G R, 'Archaeologia 45' in Archaeologia 45, (1880), 367
NY 88 SE 01,

Source: Historic England

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