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Romano-British field system and settlement at Wheata Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Ecclesfield, Sheffield

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Latitude: 53.445 / 53°26'41"N

Longitude: -1.509 / 1°30'32"W

OS Eastings: 432708.774755

OS Northings: 394359.281333

OS Grid: SK327943

Mapcode National: GBR KXXL.3S

Mapcode Global: WHCC4.SNMV

Entry Name: Romano-British field system and settlement at Wheata Wood

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018473

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31226

County: Sheffield

Civil Parish: Ecclesfield

Built-Up Area: Sheffield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Grenoside St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument includes the extensive remains of a Romano-British field system
and settlement situated in ancient woodland, visible as lynchets, terraces,
cairns and embankments, together with traces of orthostatic (upright boulder)
field walls. The field system stands on gently sloping ground on the northern
urban fringe of the city of Sheffield.
A series of low, stony embankments forming several enclosed areas are key
features of the monument, indicating that the area was divided into a series
of relatively small fields of irregular form. Within the enclosed areas are
several cairns of small and medium stones collected as the result of
progressive field clearance. Some of the cairns form part of the enclosure
embankments. In two areas of the field system are a series of smaller and
more complex enclosures which are likely to be domestic yards surrounding
former dwelling sites. At the north western extent of the surviving field
system are upstanding walls forming a small enclosure comprising large upright
boulders. The irregular nature of a modern boundary wall extending from the
enclosure, and its construction incorporating embankments and large boulders,
indicate that at least part of the modern wall overlays a field boundary of
Romano-British origin.
The field system is interpreted as the remains of a Romano-British farming
settlement, one of a small number of similar monuments surviving on the
eastern gritstone fringe of the southern Pennines. Evidence of a similar
settlement exists in the adjoining Handlands wood where limited excavation has
also established a Romano-British date for the field complex.
All gates, fences and posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included. All drystone walls are also
excluded, except for their foundation courses and the ground beneath them
which are included together with a 3m margin. The wall foundations are
included because of their Romano-British origins.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 3 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.

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the 5th century AD. They usually comprise a discrete block of fields
orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out
along two axes set at right-angles to one another. The field boundaries can
take various forms (including drystone walls, orthostats, earth and rubble
banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or
sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances
and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised
the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are
usually situated close to, or within, the field system.
The majority of field systems are thought to have been used mainly for crop
production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from
frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practiced in a mixed
farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems represent a coherent
economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide
important information about developments in agricultural practices in a
particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental
change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be
positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit
The settlement site at Wheata Wood with associated field system survives well,
demonstrating a diversity of features relating to agricultural practice of the
Romano-British period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983), 21-23
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983), 21-3

Source: Historic England

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