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Two Roman period native settlements and associated field system on Coldberry Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Wooler, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.54 / 55°32'23"N

Longitude: -2.0476 / 2°2'51"W

OS Eastings: 397090.834906

OS Northings: 627364.529145

OS Grid: NT970273

Mapcode National: GBR G44C.HW

Mapcode Global: WH9ZP.J04S

Entry Name: Two Roman period native settlements and associated field system on Coldberry Hill

Scheduled Date: 31 July 1973

Last Amended: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017043

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31731

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Wooler

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Wooler St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes two Roman period native homesteads, an associated field
system and trackways situated on the eastern slopes of Coldberry Hill
overlooking the valley of the Humbleton Burn. The western settlement is
visible as the remains of two conjoined enclosures, each scooped into the
hillslope on the western side and defined by an earth and stone bank. The
northern enclosure is scooped to a depth of about 2m with an entrance on the
east side. Internally, there is a raised platform in the north west corner and
a hut circle to the south which stands 0.3m high. The southern enclosure is
scooped to a depth of about 1m with an entrance in the eastern side. The
entrances of both enclosures lead into a sunken trackway, about 0.4m deep and
defined by low banks on each side, which runs in a south east direction to
join a sunken trackway along the eastern edge of the monument. The eastern
settlement is visible as the remains of two sub-circular enclosures defined by
earth and stone banks standing up to 0.4m high in the larger enclosure and
0.2m high in the smaller. The larger enclosure has an entrance in the south
east side and contains two hut circles which stand up to 0.4m high. The
smaller enclosure, or annexe, abuts the south west side of the larger one and
is interpreted as a stock enclosure. Running in a north west and south east
direction from the junction of the two enclosures are slight banks which form
part of a wider system of fields clearly visible on aerial photographs,
although more difficult to discern on the ground. The fields are roughly
rectangular in shape and their enclosing banks vary in character from low
spread banks 0.1m high to well constructed banks 0.25m high with upright
stones protruding at intervals. Evidence from aerial photographs also suggests
the presence of clearance cairns and cord rig cultivation within the field
plots. These are contemporary with the field plots and indicate land use
patterns within them. The field system is believed to be contemporary with the
settlements and two fields are included in the scheduling. Further fields
extend beyond the monument.
A post and wire fence and a dry stone wall along the south side of the
monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

A regular aggregate field system is a group of regularly defined fields of
prehistoric or Roman date, laid out in a block or blocks which lie
approximately at right angles to each other, usually with a settlement as a
focal point. Fields are generally square or rectangular and the blocks give an
ordered, if irregular, shape to the field system as a whole. They are
characteristically extensive monuments, the number of individual fields
varying between 2 and 50, but this is, at least in part, a reflection of bias
in the archaeological records rather than the true extent of such land
divisions duting their period of use. The fields were the primary unit of
production in a mixed farming economy, incorporating pastoral, arable and
horticultural elements. Less than 250 such field systems have been identified
and, as a rare monuments type which provides an insight into land division and
agricultural practice during their period of use, all well preserved examples
will normally be identified to be nationally important.
The Roman period native settlements and associated field system on Coldberry
Hill are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. They
are part of a wider group of archaeological sites whose remains are well
preserved which survive in the northern Cheviots and hence form part of a
wider archaeological landscape. They will contribute to any study of
settlement and land use during this period.

Source: Historic England


Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle, Gates, T M, NT/9727/C, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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