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Romano-British farmstead on Little Urswick Crags

A Scheduled Monument in Urswick, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.1574 / 54°9'26"N

Longitude: -3.1344 / 3°8'3"W

OS Eastings: 326015.051601

OS Northings: 474103.128381

OS Grid: SD260741

Mapcode National: GBR 6NKC.6G

Mapcode Global: WH72B.TRLR

Entry Name: Romano-British farmstead on Little Urswick Crags

Scheduled Date: 4 December 1924

Last Amended: 5 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013822

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27685

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Urswick

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Urswick St Mary Virgin and St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a Romano-British farmstead located on the summit of
Little Urswick Crags. This site is one of two Romano-British settlements on
the crags; the adjacent farmstead, which is of markedly different shape, is
the subject of a separate scheduling. This site includes an oval-shaped
enclosure having maximum internal measurements of approximately 95m east-west
by 71m north-south. The enclosure is defended by a stone wall up to 3m wide
and 1m high. There is an entrance on the enclosure's south east side which
leads into a roadway or passageway. To the south of this roadway are three
irregularly-shaped stock pens, each defined by low stone walls, and at the
western end of the roadway there is a fourth stockpen. North of the roadway
there are two enclosures; the smaller is interpreted as a stock pen but the
larger is sub-rectangular with an entrance immediately off the roadway. Within
this larger enclosure, and adjacent to its entrance, there are the earthworks
of a well preserved hut circle measuring c.12m in diameter. Elsewhere within
this larger enclosure there are traces of stone wall foundations suggesting
subdivisions or a rectangular structure.
Limited excavation in 1906 found quernstones, a flint scraper, a whetstone, a
few fragments of Romano-British pottery, and a thin strip of decorated bronze
which was tentatively dated to the second - first centuries BC.
A drystone wall crossing the eastern side of the monument 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

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 a combination of 19th century stone robbing and the very early limited
excavation, the Romano-British farmstead on Little Urswick Crags survives
reasonably well with above-ground dry-stone walling. It remains largely
unencumbered by modern development. The excavation located finds of late-
prehistoric and Romano-British date, and the site will contain further
remains, artefacts, and other evidence of this period. The monument is one of
a number of Romano-British and prehistoric settlement sites in the locality.
It preserves considerable easily visible detail of its layout and is well-
known nationally. It will facilitate any further study of regional Romano-
British settlement patterns in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dobson, J, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Urswick Stone Walls, , Vol. VII, (1907), 72-94
Smith, R A, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in A Bronze Fragment of Late-Keltic Engraving, , Vol. VII, (1907), 95

Source: Historic England

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