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Roman camp and prehistoric round cairn 700m north-east of Bellshiel Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2921 / 55°17'31"N

Longitude: -2.2875 / 2°17'15"W

OS Eastings: 381837.23663

OS Northings: 599817.604095

OS Grid: NY818998

Mapcode National: GBR D7G7.KQ

Mapcode Global: WH8ZL.T7WT

Entry Name: Roman camp and prehistoric round cairn 700m north-east of Bellshiel Bridge

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1962

Last Amended: 27 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011414

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20944

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Rochester

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Horsley with Byrness

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a Roman temporary camp and a prehistoric round cairn
situated on the top of a near-level ridge 400m west of Dere Street Roman road.
The camp is sub-rectangular in shape with rounded corners and measures a
maximum of 490m east-west by 330m north-south. It is surrounded by a
substantial earthen rampart 3m wide and up to 0.5m high which has been
obscured on the north side by a field bank and levelled at the south-
eastern corner by ploughing. There is a 3m wide and 0.4m deep external ditch
on all sides except the south where it is believed that the nature of the
underlying rock prevented the digging of a ditch. Gateways are located in the
east and south sides. The former is protected externally by a detached length
of rampart known as a traverse, situated at a distance of 10m, blocking the
direct line of access into the camp. The southern gateway has an internal
clavicula, an inturned extension of the rampart. Gateways in the north and
west sides of the camp have been obscured by later field banks. There are no
Roman features visible within the camp but traces of occupation will be
preserved beneath ground level. The banks which are visible within the camp
are later field boundaries and bell pits, created by early mining, which have
no association with the Roman camp. The camp dates from the Roman occupation
of Britain in the first century AD and is large enough to have been used
periodically on a temporary basis by a full strength legion of soldiers
advancing northwards and also by smaller groups engaged in routine
maintenance. A round cairn of Bronze Age date is situated inside the camp on
the highest part of the ridge. It measures 8.5m in diameter and is 0.7m high.
The north side of the cairn has been damaged by military trenching. The
surface of the road which clips the south-western corner of the camp is
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were
constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as
practice camps; most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and
few were used for longer periods. They were bounded by a single earthen
rampart and outer ditch and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded
corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many
as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in
the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive
outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most
known examples lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been
identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by
the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they
provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation.
All well-preserved examples are identified as being of national importance.

Despite some damage by later boundaries, the Roman temporary camp at Bellshiel
survives well and is a good example of its type. It is one of a network of
camps in Redesdale associated with Dere Street and the fort of High Rochester
and will contribute to our understanding of the Roman occupation of Northern

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Richmond, I A, 'Northumberland County History xv' in The Romans in Redesdale, (1940), 122-123
NY 89 NW 04,

Source: Historic England

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