Ancient Monuments

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Medieval farmstead and two prehistoric carved rocks at West Loup's

A Scheduled Monument in Cotherstone, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.5504 / 54°33'1"N

Longitude: -2.0524 / 2°3'8"W

OS Eastings: 396704.441868

OS Northings: 517236.611403

OS Grid: NY967172

Mapcode National: GBR GH3T.FL

Mapcode Global: WHB4B.FWWH

Entry Name: Medieval farmstead and two prehistoric carved rocks at West Loup's

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016601

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31793

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Cotherstone

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham


The monument includes a medieval farmstead, two prehistoric carved rocks and
remains of the 17th century farm of West Loup's. The enclosing earthwork of
the medieval farmstead can be seen partly enclosing the later buildings, and
the two carved rocks are within this earthwork. The enclosing earthwork is
slight, and consists of a bank, changing slightly in form around the
farmstead. It is more substantial to the north of the buildings where the bank
is up to 4m wide and 1m high. Elsewhere, typical dimensions are 2m wide and
0.5m high. The enclosure has a possible entrance at its north east corner. On
the south side of the farm the enclosure is not visible amongst the derelict
buildings and garths belonging to the 17th century farm. These farm buildings
and garths occupy most of the interior of the enclosure, and obscure much of
the medieval farmstead, although medieval remains are anticipated to survive
well below ground. North of the farm buildings is a narrow stony bank forming
a rectangle 8m by 7m, attached to, and overlying, the bank of the enclosure,
and probably representing an early building phase. There are also two parallel
banks 6m apart and 14m long, running westwards from the east edge of the
enclosure. These may be the remains of a building, or may form the sides of a
path or track to the farm house, predating the construction of some of the
One of the two prehistoric carved rocks is on the south side of the 17th
century farmhouse, east of the wall of a small garth. The carving consists of
two cups. The other carved rock is 3m north of the north east corner of the
northernmost building of the 17th century farm. The carving consists of one
groove and at least seven cups, two of them with rings.
The drystone wall forming the modern field boundary on the west side of the
farm 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

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
evolved gradually during the past 1500 years or more.
The Alston Block local region encompasses the high moorlands north of
Stainmore. Away from the `specialist nucleations', (the clusters of dwellings
and workshops associated with mining and the railways), the dispersed
settlement forms include both seasonal and permanent farmsteads, as well as
specialist sheep and cattle ranches. The latter were normally outlying
dependencies of larger settlements or estate centres located in adjacent
regions. In these upland environments, dating settlements can be difficult.

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small
groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a
characteristic feature of the medieval rural landscape. They occur throughout
the country, the intensity of their distribution determined by local
topography and the nature of the agricultural system prevalent within the
region. In some areas of dispersed settlement they were the predominant
settlement form; elsewhere they existed alongside, or were components of, more
nucleated settlement patterns. The sites of many farmsteads have been occupied
down to the present day but others were abandoned as a result of, for example,
declining economic viability, enclosure or emparkment, or epidemics like the
Black Death. In the northern border areas, recurring cross-border raids and
military activities also disrupted agricultural life and led to abandonments.
Farmsteads are a common and long-lived monument type; the archaeological
deposits on those which were abandoned are often well-preserved and provide
important information on regional and national settlement patterns and farming
economies, and on changes in these through time.
Prehistoric rock carving is found on natural boulders and rock outcrops in
many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England
in Northumberland, Durham, and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form
of decoration is the `cup' marking, where small cup-like hollows are worked
into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more
`rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the rings may also
exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also
occur but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or
may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and
Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one of our most important
insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains
unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. All
positively identified prehistoric rock carvings sites will normally be
identified as nationally important.
Although partly obscured by the 17th century farm, the medieval farmstead of
West Loup's survives well. The carved rocks also survive well and indicate the
importance of the site in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Laurie, T, Prehistoric Rock Art in County Durham, Swaledale and Wensleydale, (1998)
Beckensall, S, Laurie, T, Prehistoric Rock Art in County Durham, Swaledale and Wensleydale, (1998)
Laurie, T, The Archaeology of West Loups, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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