Ancient Monuments

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Romano-British settlement, 700m north west of The Heugh

A Scheduled Monument in Birtley, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1216 / 55°7'17"N

Longitude: -2.21 / 2°12'35"W

OS Eastings: 386705.275783

OS Northings: 580818.14634

OS Grid: NY867808

Mapcode National: GBR F906.BV

Mapcode Global: WHB1K.0JXL

Entry Name: Romano-British settlement, 700m north west of The Heugh

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010046

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25131

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 on a high spur above the left bank of the North Tyne. The settlement,
sub-rectangular in shape, measures a maximum of 55m east to west by 34m north
to south within a bank of stone and earth 2m wide and standing to a maximum
height of 0.5m high. There is an entrance through the western wall of the
enclosure which is flanked internally by two sunken yards visible as large
depressions. Beyond the yards there are traces of at least one circular
stone-founded house 6m in diameter. Some 26m east of the entrance a stone wall
divides the enclosure into two. It is thought that this wall was originally
the eastern wall of a considerably smaller settlement which has been expanded
by the addition of the eastern part of the enclosure. The eastern half is
occupied by an unusually large scooped yard, probably providing accommodation
for stock, with an entrance through its eastern wall. This extension has been
scooped as much as 2m below the ground level. Immediately to the north of this
yard, and positioned against the north wall of the extension there is a level
platform which it is thought also contained the sites of circular dwellings.

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.

Despite afforestation and some stone robbing, the settlement 700m north west
of The Heugh 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


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 43' in Additional Rectilinear Settlements in Northumberland, (1963), 211-215

Source: Historic England

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