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Medieval and later dispersed settlement, 730m north and 860m north of Linbriggs

A Scheduled Monument in Alwinton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3581 / 55°21'29"N

Longitude: -2.1736 / 2°10'24"W

OS Eastings: 389091.818861

OS Northings: 607134.977881

OS Grid: NT890071

Mapcode National: GBR F68H.62

Mapcode Global: WHB0D.LL58

Entry Name: Medieval and later dispersed settlement, 730m north and 860m north of Linbriggs

Scheduled Date: 23 August 1978

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016471

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28593

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Alwinton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a dispersed settlement contained within
two separate areas of protection. The settlement extends from higher gently
sloping ground to the level floodplain on the right bank of the River Coquet.
The most southerly part of the settlement, which is situated furthest from the
river on the highest ground, is contained within the first area. This part of
the settlement includes the remains of a rectangular long house measuring 15m
by 5m, sub-divided by a low stone wall into two rooms and the adjacent square
foundations of a second building measuring 10m across. Immediately to the west
there are the remains of a circular stack stand, upon which winter fodder was
stored. The stack stand is visible as the slight remains of a raised circular
platform 9m in diameter within a surrounding ditch 2m wide. Some 30m north of
the farmstead, situated at the foot of the steep slopes above the small
stream, there are the well preserved remains of a small corn drying kiln; the
kiln, which is a simple stone lined bowl dug into the hillside measures 4m in
diameter and although partly infilled is 2m deep. This part of the settlement
is bounded on the north by a steeply incised stream and on the east by a stone
and earth lynchet. The slight remains of a scarped bank are visible bounding
the settlement on the western side but a continuation of this feature, thought
to exist around the southern side of the settlement is no longer visible.
The remainder of the dispersed settlement is contained within the second area
of protection. This includes the well preserved remains of five long houses
and associated enclosures, situated on sloping ground above and immediately
adjacent to the River Coquet. The most prominent feature of this part of the
settlement is an enclosure measuring 90m by 70m bounded by a low stone wall
standing to a maximum height of 0.5m. Within the enclosure, attached to its
eastern wall, there is a rectangular long house measuring 5.5m by 13m with
opposing entrances through its centre; a second rectangular building measuring
6m by 23m lies immediately outside the enclosure to the south. The sloping
interior of the enclosure contains three lynchets and at its north eastern
corner there is a stoney circular mound 4m in diameter and up to 1.5m high
which is thought to be a second corn drying kiln. Immediately outside the
north west corner of the enclosure, but attached to it, there is a third
rectangular building measuring 6m by 15m and the truncated remains of a fourth
building attached to a small rectangular paddock or yard. A small stream
crosses through the settlement at its western side but immediately beyond the
stream the well preserved remains of a fifth long house measuring 9m by 4m are

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

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Wear-Tweed sub-Province of the Central Province, an
area long characterised, except for the western margins, by nucleated
settlements both surviving and deserted. Variations within the sub-Province
reflect land ownership as well as terrain: on some estates in Northumberland
there was much dispersal of farmsteads and consequent village and hamlet
depopulation after the Middle Ages, whereas Durham saw greater stability
because of ecclesiastical control. An overlay of mining settlements adds
complexity to the coalfield areas.
The Cheviot Margin local region is a narrow transition zone between two
contrasting areas, the high moorlands of the Cheviots and the agriculturally
favourable lowlands of the Tweed Valley and the Northumbrian Vales. Fieldwork
has shown that this region retains archaeological traces likely to date from
many periods, providing evidence for sequences of land occupation. Medieval
settlements are mainly in the form of small hamlets and isolated farmsteads.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an
area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region,
but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include
roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other
buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas
where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may
still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently include
features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval
settlement are found in both the South Eastern and Northern and Western
Provinces of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas.
Where found, their archaeological remains are one of the most important
sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries
following the Norman Conquest.
The remains of the settlement north of Linbriggs survive well and retain
significant archaeological deposits. It is a good example of upland dispersed
settlement and will add greatly to our understanding of medieval and later
settlement patterns in the Cheviot Margins.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Charlton, B, Fifty centuries of Peace and War, (1996), 70
Charlton, D B, Day, J C, Linbrig, (1976)
NT80NE 17,

Source: Historic England

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