Ancient Monuments

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Enclosed settlement on east slope of Brands Hill, 900m north of Cowboy's Cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Earle, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5088 / 55°30'31"N

Longitude: -2.03 / 2°1'47"W

OS Eastings: 398205.073437

OS Northings: 623888.10651

OS Grid: NT982238

Mapcode National: GBR G48R.92

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.SSJS

Entry Name: Enclosed settlement on east slope of Brands Hill, 900m north of Cowboy's Cairn

Scheduled Date: 15 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015633

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24656

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Earle

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ilderton St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


This monument includes a native settlement dating to the Roman period. It is
situated on a level plateau on the east slope of Brands Hill, 900m north of
Cowboy's Cairn. The monument consists of a sub-circular enclosure of earth
and stone banks, with the remains of an outlying hut circle immediately to the
south east. Remains of field boundaries lie to the north and west of the
site, there is no visible physical relationship between these and the site.
The full extent and nature of this field system is not fully understood, hence
it is not included in the scheduling.
The settlement measures 20m by 19m internally. It is enclosed within stone
and earth banks, 3m wide and up to 0.5m high. There are stone orthostats
clearly visible on the interior face of the bank. Collapsed material from the
bank extends downslope for c.3m. The interior of the enclosure is slightly
scooped into the hillslope, to a depth of 0.5m, to provide a level platform.
There is a small internal courtyard in the northern part of the enclosure.
This measures c.6m by 6m internally and is defined by a low bank, up to 2m
wide, with an entrance in the east side. Immediately outside the enclosure,
on the east side, are the stone foundations of a prehistoric building, 5m in

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.

This enclosed settlement on the east slope of Brands Hill forms a reasonably
well preserved example of a Roman period native settlement. The entire circuit
of the enclosure is clearly visible, as are the remains of both internal and
external features. The site is situated within an area of clustered
archaeological sites of high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological
landscape. It will contribute to the study of the wider settlement pattern
during this period.

Source: Historic England

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