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Roman period native farmstead and associated scooped enclosures and trackways on east slope of Harehope Hill, 925m south east of High Akeld Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Akeld, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5508 / 55°33'2"N

Longitude: -2.0643 / 2°3'51"W

OS Eastings: 396041.939815

OS Northings: 628562.71414

OS Grid: NT960285

Mapcode National: GBR G408.W1

Mapcode Global: WH9ZH.8R82

Entry Name: Roman period native farmstead and associated scooped enclosures and trackways on east slope of Harehope Hill, 925m south east of High Akeld Cottages

Scheduled Date: 20 June 1973

Last Amended: 17 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015637

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24664

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Akeld

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


This monument includes a native farmstead, associated enclosures and trackways
dating to the Roman period. It is situated on a level shoulder of land on the
east slope of Harehope Hill, c.100m to the north east of the steep gully of
Monday Cleugh.
The main enclosure comprises a sub-oval area, 42m by 24m, enclosed within a
stone bank. The bank is 2m wide and up to 1m high with massive boulder
kerbstones visible on both interior and exterior faces. A simple entrance,
marked by large boulders, is situated approximately mid-way along the eastern
side. The interior of the enclosure is divided into two compartments by a bank
of large stone boulders; this bank appears to be secondary, as it overlies the
edge of the outer enclosure bank. The northern compartment is scooped into the
back of the hillslope to a depth of c.2m. The stone foundations of a
sub-rectangular building or small enclosure are visible in the south west
corner of the compartment. The southern compartment contains the circular
stone foundations of a prehistoric building, 7m in diameter, situated on a
raised earth platform 10m in diameter and 1m high.
Outside the main enclosure, and immediately to the north, is a second
enclosure. This measures 14m by 23m and is scooped into the back of the
hillslope to a depth of 2.5m. The remains of an external bank, 2m wide and up
to 0.2m high, survives on the east side and there are slight traces of an
entrance on this side. The sub-circular stone foundations of a prehistoric
building, 5m by 6m, are visible immediately north of the entrance.
A third enclosure lies c.44m to the east of the main enclosure. This measures
10m by 13m internally and the back of the enclosure is scooped into the
hillside to a depth of c.1m. It is enclosed within a bank of earth and stone,
up to 2m wide and 0.3m high.
A trackway runs immediately to the east of the main enclosure and continues
for some distance to south and north. The section of track immediately outside
the enclosure survives as a terraced track, 9m wide, with a stone revetment
c.1m high on the downslope side. To the north of the enclosure the trackway
continues as a hollow way, 4m wide and up to 1.5m deep, terraced into the
hillside. The slope to the west of the track is revetted with large boulders,
the eastern side is defined by a bank 2m wide and up to 0.4m high. The track
continues northwards from the main enclosure for a length of c.123m until it
reaches the stone wall of the modern field boundary, beyond this the land has
been agriculturally improved and the line of the track is no longer visible.
To the south of the main enclosure, the trackway is visible for a length of
c.100m. The section of track immediately south of the enclosure is 9m wide and
is defined by two parallel lines of upright boulders. Beyond this the track
widens slightly to c.10m, where it is defined on the uphill side by a low
stone bank of large boulders and on the downhill side by large boulders and a
stone revetment. The track follows the contour of the hill for c.100m, beyond
which it is obscured by the fallen scree of Monday Cleugh. A small square
enclosure, 16m by 16m, defined by a low boulder bank up to 1m wide, lies
immediately adjacent to the western edge of the trackway, immediately to the
north east of the scooped enclosure.

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.

The farmstead, associated enclosures and trackway on the east slope of
Harehope Hill forms a well preserved example of a Roman period native
settlement and associated features. All of the enclosures are clearly defined
and internal evidence of occupation is visible in two of them. The trackway
forms an important component of the settlement and may provide important
information on the relationship between this and other contemporary
settlements and land use in the area. 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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