Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Castle Folds Romano-British defended stone hut circle settlement and medieval shieling

A Scheduled Monument in Orton, Cumbria

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.4781 / 54°28'41"N

Longitude: -2.5416 / 2°32'29"W

OS Eastings: 365002.184055

OS Northings: 509326.974501

OS Grid: NY650093

Mapcode National: GBR BJPN.KH

Mapcode Global: WH93B.XPWW

Entry Name: Castle Folds Romano-British defended stone hut circle settlement and medieval shieling

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1938

Last Amended: 10 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011141

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23634

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Orton

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Asby St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is Castle Folds Romano-British defended stone hut circle
settlement and medieval shieling. It occupies a position of considerable
inaccessibility upon a flat-topped limestone knoll close to the summit of
Great Asby Scar and is surrounded by large areas of deeply fissured limestone
paving. The site includes an irregular enclosure which does not quite cover
the entire top of the knoll. The enclosure wall is constructed of limestone
rubble originally 2.4m thick and contained between parallel lines of limestone
blocks. It is now merely tumbled debris of stone remaining a little over 1m
high in places but is thought to have been 3m high originally with a parapet
on top giving a total height of about 4m. There is a 5m-wide entrance in the
south side which is approached from the south by an artificially constructed
passageway through the surrounding fractured limestone. Within the
enclosure are remains of at least 12 roughly circular or oval stone huts
arranged against the enclosure wall. These range between 5.5m - 11.5m in
diameter with the three largest located at the south-western, south-eastern
north-eastern corners of the enclosure. A study of the enclosure wall reveals
virtually all of the limestone blocks facing the outside of the wall have
been torn out, suggesting the defences were deliberately destroyed rather than
being subjected to casual stone robbing. Within the enclosure, and adjacent to
the south wall, is a rectangular medieval shieling measuring 22m by 9m
externally with walls up to 1.1m high. There are faint traces of a partition
wall in the shieling indicating the structure was originally two-roomed. A
7.5m length of wall extends north-east from the north-eastern corner of the

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 monument is an unusual example in Cumbria of a heavily defended
Romano-British stone hut circle settlement. Unlike many Romano-British
settlements which were enclosed or 'defended' in such a way as to protect both
inhabitants and stock from casual marauders, Castle Folds appears, by the very
nature of its inaccessible location and strongly defended stone enclosure
wall, to have been constructed in response to a threat of much greater
proportions. It survives well, preserves considerable detail of the layout of
the site, will facilitate further study of Romano-British settlement patterns
in the area and will contain further evidence of the defensive nature of the
site. Additionally, the monument is a rare example of a juxtaposed
Romano-British settlement and medieval shieling.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Higham, N, Jones, N, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers, (1975), 51
Higham, N, Jones, N, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers, (1975), 51
Richmond, I A, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Castle Folds, by Great Asby, , Vol. XXXIII, (1933), 233-7
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.