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Romano-British enclosed settlement and medieval settlement 300m south of Burdhope

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.281 / 55°16'51"N

Longitude: -2.2962 / 2°17'46"W

OS Eastings: 381278.809636

OS Northings: 598585.098915

OS Grid: NY812985

Mapcode National: GBR D7DC.NP

Mapcode Global: WH8ZL.PJRB

Entry Name: Romano-British enclosed settlement and medieval settlement 300m south of Burdhope

Scheduled Date: 18 June 1968

Last Amended: 10 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011904

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25087

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 the remains of a stone-built enclosed settlement of
Romano-British date, overlain by a later medieval settlement, situated on the
highest point of a scarp commanding extensive views over the valley of the
Rede. The earlier, Romano-British, settlement is visible as the foundations of
at least five stone-founded circular houses varying in size from 7m to 9m in
diameter within rubble walls 3m wide. Most of the houses have an entrance in
their eastern or south eastern sides. Each house, or pair of houses, is
contained within, or fronts onto, at least one curvilinear or rectilinear
shaped yard up to 20m across. The settlement was reoccupied in the medieval
period as the foundations of at least seven long rectangular buildings
indicate. They mostly range in length from 10m to 15m but one is 44m long and
is thought to be the remains of a medieval timber long house. The remainder of
the buildings are likely to be barns and other ancillary buildings. A
document records the destruction of `Birdhup' by the Scots in 1584; it is
thought that this medieval settlement is the Birdhup referred to.

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.

Farmsteads, comprising small groups of buildings with attached yard, gardens
and enclosures, were a charcteristic feature of the medieval rural landscape.
In some areas of dispersed settlement they were the predominant settlement
form; elsewhere they existed alongside, or were components of more nucleated
settlement patterns. The sites of many farmsteads have been occupied down to
the present day but others were abandoned as a result of, for example,
declining economic viability, enclosure or emparkment, or epidemics like the
Black Death. In the northern Border area, recurring cross-border raids and
military activites also disrupted agricultural life and led to abandonments.
Farmsteads are a common and long lived monument type; the archaeological
deposits on those which were abandoned are often well preserved and provide
important information on regional and national settlement patterns and farming
economies, and on changes in these through time.
The enclosed settlement at Birdhope is well preserved and retains significant
archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of native settlements in the
area and will contribute to any study of the settlement pattern at this time.
The medieval farmstead is also well preserved and will contribute to our
understanding of rural Border life and warfare during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940), 77-8
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940)
Jobey, G, A Field Guide to Prehistoric Northumberland 2, (1974), 35
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle, (1947), 166
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960), 63
Gates, T, (1878)
NY 89 NW 02,

Source: Historic England

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