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Romano-British farmstead and post-medieval farmstead at Watch Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Waterhead, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0007 / 55°0'2"N

Longitude: -2.635 / 2°38'6"W

OS Eastings: 359474.429581

OS Northings: 567532.111005

OS Grid: NY594675

Mapcode National: GBR BB1M.95

Mapcode Global: WH90S.HKFR

Entry Name: Romano-British farmstead and post-medieval farmstead at Watch Hill

Scheduled Date: 9 February 1984

Last Amended: 11 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013968

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27696

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Waterhead

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Lanercostwith Kirkcambeck St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a Romano-British farmstead, the site of which was later
reused as a post-medieval farmstead. It is located on the summit of Watch Hill
from where it commands extensive views in all directions. It includes an earth
and stone bank or rampart up to 5m wide and 1m high which encloses a
rectangular area with rounded corners measuring approximately 60m east-west by
40m north-south internally. Flanking this rampart is a partly infilled outer
ditch c.4m wide by 0.6m deep and an outer bank up to 2.5m wide by 0.6m high.
Access into the enclosure's interior is by an entrance close to the mid-point
of the western side. A sunken trackway leads from this entrance into the
enclosure and it is flanked on either side by rectangular platforms in the
western half of the enclosure. Towards the centre of the enclosure the
trackway fades out and beyond it, in the eastern half, there is a large
platform measuring approximately 25m by 15.5m. The rectangular enclosure, with
its rampart, ditch and outer bank is typical of a Romano-British farmstead.
The interior would have contained huts and stock enclosures, however later
reuse of the site has obscured the surface traces of the interior layout of
the Romano-British farmstead. Local estate documents record a tenement at
Watch Hill in 1609 and it is with this phase of occupation that the
rectangular building platforms are associated.
All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath them 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.

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small
groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a
characteristic feature of the medieval and immediate post-medieval rural
landscape. 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. In the northern border areas, recurring
cross border raids and military activities 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
The Romano-British farmstead and post-medieval farmstead at Watch Hill
survives well and its earthworks remain well preserved. It is largely
unencumbered by modern development and is a rare example regionally of a
Romano-British farmstead which was reused as a farmstead during the late
16th/early 17th centuries. Archaeological deposits associated with both phases
of its use will survive well and, additionally, the monument will contribute
to the study of Romano-British settlement patterns in the area.

Source: Historic England


AM107, Fairless, K J, Settlement on Watch Hill, (1994)
AM107, Fairless, K J, Settlement on Watch Hill, (1994)
FMW Report, Crow, J, Settlement at Watch Hill, (1989)
FMW Report, Crow, J, Settlement at Watch Hill, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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