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Roman period native settlement and medieval shieling on east slopes of Brands Hill, 1100m south east of Carey Burn Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Earle, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5112 / 55°30'40"N

Longitude: -2.029 / 2°1'44"W

OS Eastings: 398263.698993

OS Northings: 624156.880191

OS Grid: NT982241

Mapcode National: GBR G48Q.J6

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.SQZX

Entry Name: Roman period native settlement and medieval shieling on east slopes of Brands Hill, 1100m south east of Carey Burn Bridge

Scheduled Date: 11 March 1964

Last Amended: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016244

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29327

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


The monument includes an enclosed native settlement dating to the Roman
period. It is located on a prominent knoll on the lower slopes of Brands Hill,
which rises to the south west, and has extensive views to the east. The
position is well defended from the west and south by steep slopes and a stream
but on the north east side the land falls away gently. Although the situation
is defensive, the monument has the character of a Roman period native
settlement and includes an enclosure, annexe and hut circles.
The settlement comprises a sub-circular enclosure, approximately 54m in
diameter, defined by a bank of earth and stone, 3m wide and up to 1.5m high.
The inner and outer edges of the rampart are marked by large kerb stones and
along the top of the rampart are several pointed orthostats. On the less well
defended north east side there is an additional bank, now spread up to 6m wide
and up to 1m high. Around the north west side of the knoll, at a distance of
between 10m to 18m from the settlement, is a stony bank 39m long, 1m to 2m
wide and up to 0.3m high, with large boulders placed along its length. The
bank is interrupted by an overlapping entrance about 1.5m wide and continues
for 71m around the south west side of the knoll. It utilises the steep natural
slope to form a revetment and terminates at a rocky outcrop.
Within the enclosure are around nine hut circles which measure between 5m
and 8m in diameter. One of these is centrally placed with banks radiating
towards the rampart and which form yards within the enclosure. Inside one yard
a possible quern stone was found protruding from the ground. A more recent
stone wall has been built across the settlement and crosses it from north west
to south east, through the probable original entrance. To the south east of
the enclosure is an irregular shaped annexe with the remains of up to three
hut circles. At the base of the knoll, also on the south east side, is a
rectangular structure 8m by 3m internally with walls 1m wide by 0.1m high. It
is bisected by the later field wall and is interpreted as a shieling. The
later field wall is included within the scheduling because it has been
constructed from material derived from the native settlement. A modern post
and wire fence on the west side of the wall is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

Shielings are small seasonally occupied huts which were built to provide
shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on upland or
marshland. Shielings are reasonably common in the uplands but frequently
represent the only evidence for medieval settlement and farming practice here.
Those examples which survive well and which help illustrate medieval land use
in an area are considered to be nationally important.
The Roman period native settlement is well preserved and will retain
significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of broadly
contemporary farmsteads and enclosures on the slopes of Brands Hill and lies
in an area of clustered sites whose archaeological remains are well
preserved. The shieling is fairly well preserved and may be associated with
the nearby medieval settlement of Middleton Old Town to the south east.
It is part of a wider group of shielings found in the northern Cheviots in
similar locations: on slightly raised ground adjacent to water. Both the Roman
period native settlement and medieval shieling form part of a wider
archaeological landscape and will contribute to any study of the settlement
pattern during these periods.

Source: Historic England

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