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Stone circle, defended settlement, Romano-British farmstead and field system, Roman camp and group of shielings immediately south of Greenlee Lough

A Scheduled Monument in Bardon Mill, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0202 / 55°1'12"N

Longitude: -2.353 / 2°21'10"W

OS Eastings: 377523.987779

OS Northings: 569573.199838

OS Grid: NY775695

Mapcode National: GBR DB0D.C6

Mapcode Global: WH90X.T2PS

Entry Name: Stone circle, defended settlement, Romano-British farmstead and field system, Roman camp and group of shielings immediately south of Greenlee Lough

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017961

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28578

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Bardon Mill

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Beltingham with Henshaw

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a stone circle of Bronze Age date, a
defended settlement of Iron Age date, a farmstead and field system of Iron
Age/Romano-British date, a Roman camp and the remains of at least 15 shielings
of medieval date, situated on the south facing slope of a rocky escarpment,
above the southern shore of Greenlee Lough. At the extreme north east side of
the monument there are the remains of a stone circle 16m in diameter. The
circle contains at least 14 stones, four of which are large sandstone
boulders standing from 0.7m to 1.1m high. The ten smaller stones all stand to
a maximum height of 0.3m. Within the south western part of the stone circle
there is a small circular mound of stone and earth standing to a height of
The defended settlement, which is situated immediately north west of the stone
circle, has been constructed against the northern edge of the cliff which
affords natural defence on this side. The settlement is roughly rectangular in
shape and measures a maximum of 48m east to west by 38m north to south, within
a broad ditch on average 4m wide and 1m deep. Outside the ditch there is a
substantial rampart between 4m to 6m wide and standing to a maximum height of
At the extreme western end of the monument are the well preserved remains of a
farmstead thought to be of Romano-British date. The farmstead, which is
roughly circular in shape, measures 26m in diameter within a slight bank of
stone and earth on average 2m wide and 0.3m high. Within the enclosure
the scarps and banks of several earthwork features are visible, some of which
are thought to be contemporary with the farmstead and represent the remains of
habitation. To the north and south of the Romano-British settlement, are the
remains of an associated field system. The field system is visible as a series
of linear banks of earth oriented north to south which divide the area into
small enclosures or fields. Within the fields there are areas of prehistoric
cultivation or cord rig visible as slight ridges on average 0.1m high. The
ridges are separated by narrow furrows visible as vegetation marks.
Five small areas of the field system were excavated between 1983 and 1985;
these excavations demonstrated that not only was cord rig present within areas
of the field system where it was not visible as an earthwork, but that it also
survived beneath the surface remains of later 18th century cultivation. It was
also shown that the cord rig field system had undergone at least one period of
reorganisation during its use. In addition, one of the excavations showed
that the linear field boundaries were later in date than the cord rig as
cord rig survived beneath one of the boundaries. A hollow way, with banks on
either side 0.5m high and 1.5m wide, is visible running from the eastern side
of the enclosure for at least 170m. This hollow way is thought to be
contemporary with the farmstead and its field system and gave access for
people and beasts through the enclosed fields.
Some 80m east of the Romano-British farmstead, a Roman camp has been
constructed over part of the associated field system. The camp, which is
roughly, though not exactly rectangular in shape, measures 142m from north
west to south east and 118m from south west to north east. The enclosing
rampart stands to a maximum height of 0.6m and is up to 3m wide. The
surrounding ditch measures up to 0.4m deep and 2m wide. There is a gateway set
in the centre of the north and south sides of the camp; each is defended by a
clavicula, a curving internal section of the rampart. There are thought to
have also been gateways through the eastern and western sides of the camp, but
they are now occupied by a modern track. A small area of the ditch and rampart
was excavated in 1984. The ditch was shown to be `V'-shaped and measured 1.9m
wide and was 0.8m deep. The rampart, which was separated from the ditch by a
narrow berm or open space, was shown to be of clay construction 2.2m thick and
0.4m high with a turf kerb 0.8m wide. Within the Roman camp there are the
footings of three buildings; immediately north of the modern track the
rectangular foundations of a building 9m by 4.5m stand 0.2m high and some 34m
to the north the slight footings of a second building 9m square are visible.
The third building, which measures 9m by 5m, lies south of the modern track in
the south west angle of the camp. All of these buildings are thought to be
post-Roman in date and represent later re-occupation of the fort. It is
uncertain whether these buildings are shielings or whether they represent
earlier more permanent occupation.
During the medieval period, a number of shielings were constructed within and
surrounding the defended settlement at the north eastern end of the monument.
The remains of 15 shielings are clearly visible, four of which overlie the
defences of the settlement, indicating that they are later in date. The
shielings, which are largely aligned east to west, are all of similar form and
they vary in length from 5.5m to 9.8m and are between 3m to 4.3m wide. Several
of the shielings have doorways situated slightly off centre in the long,
southern side. The majority of the shielings consist of a single room, but two
have been divided into two rooms by a slight internal wall. The shielings were
not all in use at the same time and it is thought that there are two different
phases as some buildings partially overlie the foundations others.
All stone walls and fences which cross the monument and their associated gates
are excluded from the monument, although the ground beneath these features is

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of
upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by
earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones
may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating
out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close
to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles are found throughout
England although they are concentrated in western areas, with particular
clusters in upland areas such as Bodmin and Dartmoor in the south-west and the
Lake District and the rest of Cumbria in the north-west. This distribution may
be more a reflection of present survival rather than an original pattern.
Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the
Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were carefully
designed and laid out, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the
heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully
understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but
it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies
that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided
a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead.
Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping mark the
passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the careful alignment of
stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as sunrise or sunset at
midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of individual circles
throughout the landscape has led to a suggestion that each one provided some
form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. A small stone
circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a
diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. They are widespread throughout England
although clusters are found on Dartmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, in the
Peak District and in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or
so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone
circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of

During the later prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety
of types of defensive settlements were constructed and occupied in the
northern uplands. At the smaller end of the size range were defensive
settlements; some were located on hilltops and others are found in less
prominent positions. The banks and ditches for defence were of earthen
construction. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round
houses were occupied by the inhabitants, and their stock during the cold
winter months. Defended settlements were occupied by small family groups who
used them as farmsteads. They are a rare monument type and were an important
element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern. All well preserved
examples are considered to be of national importance.
In 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 the enclosures were curvilinear in form while in the
southern part of the county a rectangular form was more common. Frequently,
the enclosures reveal a regularity of internal layout with one or more
round-houses situated towards the rear of the enclosure, facing the single
entrance. These homesteads were being constructed and used by non-Roman
natives during the period of the Roman occupation although their origins lie
in settlement forms developed before the arrival of the Romans. All homestead
sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as
nationally important.
Cord rig is the term used to describe a form of prehistoric cultivation in
which crops were grown on narrow ridges subdivided by furrows. Cord rig is
frequently arranged in fields with formal boundaries but also occurs in
smaller, irregular unenclosed plots. It often extends over considerable areas
and is often found in association with a range of prehistoric settlement
sites. It generally survives as a series of slight earthworks and is
frequently first discovered on aerial photographs, but it has also been
identified beneath several parts of Hadrian's Wall by excavation of marks
created by an ard (a simple early wooden plough). The evidence of excavation
and the study of associated monuments demonstrates that cord rig cultivation
spans the period from the Bronze Age through to the Roman period. The
discovery of cord rig cultivation is of importance for the analysis of
prehistoric settlement and agriculture as it provides insights into early
agricultural practice and the division and use of the landscape. Less than 100
examples of cord rig cultivation have been identified in England. As a rare
monument type all well preserved examples, particularly where they are
immediately associated with prehistoric or Romano-British settlements, will
normally be identified as nationally important.
Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were
constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as
practice camps. They were bounded by a single earthen rampart and outer ditch
and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded corners. Normally they have
between one and four entrances which were usually centrally placed in the
sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive outworks.
Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most known examples
lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been identified and,
particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they provide an important
insight into Roman military strategy and organisation. All well preserved
examples are identified as being of national importance.
Shielings are small seasonally occupied huts which were built to provide
shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on upland or
marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was
moved in spring from lowland around the permanently occupied farms to communal
upland grazing during the warmer summer months. The construction of
specialised transhumance huts is known from the early medieval period onwards
(from AD 450), when the practice is also known from documentary sources, in
particular place-names. Shielings vary in size but are commonly small and
occur singly or in groups. They are normally sub-rectangular in shape, defined
by drystone walling, although occasional turf-built structures are known. Both
one and two roomed examples are known. Shielings are reasonably common in the
uplands but frequently represent the only evidence for medieval settlement and
farming practice. Those examples which survive well and help illustrate
medieval land use in an area are considered to be nationally important.
The prehistoric, Roman and medieval complex south of Greenlee Lough is well
preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. The complex
provides evidence for occupation, on a seasonal or permanent basis, which
spans more than five thousand years. Taken as a whole, the monument will add
greatly to our understanding of settlement and activity in the area during
this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 33-4
Welfare, H, Swan, V, Greenlee lough, (1994), 30-1
Welfare, H, Swan, V, Roman Camps in England, (1994)
Welfare, H, Swan, V, Roman Camps in England, (1994)
Welfare, H, Swan, V, Roman Camps in England, (1994)
Welfare, A, 'Archaeological Reports for 1984' in Excavations at Greenlee Lough, (1985), 30-1
Welfare, A, 'Northern Archaeology' in The Greenlee Lough Palimpsest: Interim Report 1985, , Vol. Vol 7:2, (1986), 35-7
NY76NE 43,

Source: Historic England

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