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Four Romano-British farmsteads 370m south east of Old Church

A Scheduled Monument in Brampton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9432 / 54°56'35"N

Longitude: -2.7628 / 2°45'45"W

OS Eastings: 351234.537509

OS Northings: 561212.795784

OS Grid: NY512612

Mapcode National: GBR 9C48.NT

Mapcode Global: WH7ZZ.J0MT

Entry Name: Four Romano-British farmsteads 370m south east of Old Church

Scheduled Date: 15 March 1966

Last Amended: 7 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015420

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27704

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Brampton

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Brampton St Martin

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes four Romano-British farmsteads located on a low ridge
370m south east of Old Church. The site is visible as crop marks on an aerial
photograph which highlight features such as infilled ditches. The aerial
photograph shows two rectangular enclosures which overlap slightly and are
therefore of different dates. To the east of these two farmsteads the western
half of a third smaller rectangular enclosure is also visible on the aerial
photograph. The existence of the eastern half of this enclosure together with
a fourth enclosure lying to its east, although not visible on the aerial
photograph, has been confirmed by antiquarian investigation. The largest of
these farmsteads is the most western. The enclosure measures approximately
105m north-south by 100m east-west and there are faint traces on the aerial
photograph of an entrance at the mid-point of its western side. Overlying the
north eastern corner of this farmstead is a later and slightly smaller
rectangular farmstead. It measures approximately 80m east-west by 70m north-
south and has an entrance at the mid-point of the eastern side. Faint traces
of a hut circle are visible on the aerial photograph in the western half of
the enclosure. A short distance to the south east there is a third yet smaller
farmstead of which only its western half appears on the aerial photograph.
Limited antiquarian investigation in the late 1890s found the enclosure
measured approximately c.48m east-west by 45m north-south and that it was
defended by a steep sided ditch measuring c.3m wide by 1.3m deep. This
investigation also located a fourth farmstead immediately to the east; it
measures c.45m north-south by 30m east-west, was similarly defended by a ditch
c.3m wide by 1.3m deep, and has an entrance at its south east corner. These
latter two farmsteads were cleared of stones during agricultural improvements
in the early 19th century. At that time it was noted that they had a defensive
rampart of cobbles laid on a flagstone foundation. A hoard of third century AD
Roman coins was also found at the same time.
All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The
international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through
designation as a World Heritage Site.
The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was
recognised by the Romans during their early campaigns through northern England
and into Scotland in the second half of the first century AD. At this time a
military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts.
Subsequently the Romans largely withdrew from Scotland and there is evidence
that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of
the second century AD. This position was consolidated in the early second
century by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall,
under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius,
subsequently attempted to establish the boundary further north, between the
Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but by c.AD 160 growing unrest amongst the
native populations of northern Britain and pressures elsewhere in the Empire
caused a retraction back to the Hadrianic line. Hadrian's Wall was then the
frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.AD 400 when the Roman armies
withdrew from Britain.
Stretching over 70 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was a continuous
barrier built of stone in the east and, initially, of turf in the west. The
stone wall was originally designed to be ten Roman feet wide and sections of
this width are termed broad wall. A change of plan shortly after construction
began led to a reduction in the width of the Wall to eight Roman feet, such
sections being termed narrow wall. Today, stretches of both wall types
survive, including some sections of narrow wall built on broad wall
foundations. For most of its length a substantial ditch on the northern side
provided additional defence. Where the Wall crossed rivers, bridges were
constructed to carry it across. Construction of the Wall was organised and
executed by legionary soldiers. From the beginning the barrier was planned to
comprise more than just a curtain wall. At regularly spaced intervals of about
a mile along its length lay small walled fortlets known as milecastles. These
were attached to the southern side of the Wall and most had a gateway through
the Wall to the north. Hence they controlled crossing points through the Wall
as well as affording space for a small stable garrison. Between the
milecastles were two equally spaced towers known as turrets. Together the
milecastles and turrets provided bases from which the curtain wall could be
watched and patrolled. Both the turrets and milecastles are thought to have
been higher than the Wall itself to provide suitable observation points. It is
often assumed that a platform existed on the Wall so that troops could
actually patrol along the wall top; it is however far from certain that this
was the case.
At the western end of the Wall a system of towers, small fortlets and palisade
fences extended the frontier system another 30 miles or so down the Cumbrian
coast and helped control shipping moving across the estuary of the Solway
As originally planned, and apart from whatever space there was in the
milecastles, provision for the accommodation of garrison troops manning the
Wall was left with the line of forts which already lay along the Stanegate. At
some point a fundamental change of plan took place and forts were constructed
along the line of the Wall itself. There are now known to have been 16 forts
either attached to the Wall or in close association with it. Some overlay
earlier features such as turrets or milecastles. At this stage another linear
element, the vallum, was also added to the defensive system to the south of
the Wall. This was a broad flat-bottomed ditch flanked by a pair of linear
banks. It shadows the course of the Wall for almost all its length, sometimes
lying very close to it but sometimes up to a kilometre away from it. The
vallum's main function was to act as a barrier to restrict access to the Wall
from the south. It also had a function in linking the forts along the Wall
with a method of lateral communication. When the forts were placed along the
wall line no provision was made for a road to link them. This situation was
clearly found impracticable and a metalled track was therefore provided in
places along the vallum between the north mound and the ditch.
Later, after the withdrawal back to the Hadrianic line from the Antonine Wall,
various refurbishments were made throughout the frontier line. At this stage a
new linear feature was added: the `Military Way'. This was a road linking all
elements of the Wall defence, running from fort to fort within the area
bounded by the Wall and the vallum.
Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was
often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late
fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its
armies from the Wall and Britain.
It now survives in various states of preservation. In places, especially in
the central section, the Stone Wall still remains several courses high and the
attached forts, turrets and milecastles are also clearly identifiable.
Earthwork features such as the ditch, vallum and Military Way also survive
well in places. Elsewhere the Stone Wall has been virtually robbed out and
only its foundations survive beneath the present ground surface. Similarly,
stretches of the earthwork remains, including sections of the Turf Wall, have
been levelled or infilled and now only survive as buried features. Although
some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient
evidence does exist for its position to be fairly accurately identified
throughout most of its length.
The Romans constructed their frontier system in an area which already had an
established native population. The imposition of the Wall into their lands
must have had a significant impact on the native inhabitants of the area. The
nature and extent of this impact, however, remains a matter of much debate.
The remains of several native settlements lie very close to the Wall line, on
occasion within the defensive system. These generally take the form of one or
more hut circles, usually located within an enclosure. They are interpreted as
small farmsteads occupied by family groups. Those immediately adjacent to the
frontier system are unlikely to have been occupied whilst the Wall was in use
and hence would pre-date the Roman presence here. Whether such settlements
were deliberately cleared or were already abandoned has yet to be ascertained.

The four Romano-British farmsteads 370m south east of Old Church survive
reasonably well despite the absence of any upstanding earthworks. Aerial
photographs have identified below ground features which have been confirmed by
limited antiquarian investigation. The monument is located in close proximity
to the Roman frontier system, and a coin hoard dated to the third century AD
indicates that the site is a rare example of a native settlement which was
occupied while Hadrian's Wall was in use. As such it will contribute to any
further study of the relationship between Roman and native populations along
the frontier zone.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland, (1840), 233
MacLauchlan, , Memoir Written During a Survey of the Roman Wall, (1858), 63
MacLauchlan, , Memoir Written During a Survey of the Roman Wall, (1858), 63
Haverfield, F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee for 1898, , Vol. XV, (1899), 358-60
Higham, N H, Jones, G D B, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers: Cumbrian Aerial Survey 1974-5, (1975), 34
Higham, N H, Jones, G D B, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers: Cumbrian Aerial Survey 1974-5, (1975), 34
AP No. AKI34. Cumbria SMR No. 305, Cambridge University Collection of AP's, Enclosures on Hawkhirst Hill,

Source: Historic England

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