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Romano-British farmstead and medieval village 540m north east of the crossing point of Hag Lane and Lycum Sike

A Scheduled Monument in Murton, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.5679 / 54°34'4"N

Longitude: -2.3991 / 2°23'56"W

OS Eastings: 374294.284935

OS Northings: 519263.884885

OS Grid: NY742192

Mapcode National: GBR CHPM.D9

Mapcode Global: WH931.3FVZ

Entry Name: Romano-British farmstead and medieval village 540m north east of the crossing point of Hag Lane and Lycum Sike

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018827

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27837

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Murton

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Warcop St Columba

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the partly mutilated earthworks and buried remains of a
Romano-British farmstead which was later modified and reused as a small
medieval village. It is located on a flat shelf on the southern slopes of
Roman Fell 540m north east of the crossing point of Hag Lane and Lycum Sike
and includes a sub-rectangular Romano-British farmstead enclosure within which
lies the medieval village. The plan of the village is of a type familiar to
this part of Cumbria in which two parallel lines of houses with associated
crofts(gardens or stock enclosures) face onto a village green or street.
Although space is limited within the confines of the earlier farmstead
enclosure the village consists of a small but regular two-row arrangement of
at least five crofts or plots either side of a central roadway. Within or
immediately adjacent to these plots are remains of three buildings with faint
traces of possibly another four structures.
Although damaged on the south east and west sides by military training
exercises, enough of the Romano-British farmstead enclosure survives to
confirm that it measures a maximum of approximately 100m east-west by 45m
north-south and is bounded by a stone wall or bank up to 4m wide by 0.8m high.
There is an entrance close to the enclosure's south west corner. Internally
all surface traces of the Romano-British settlement have been obliterated by
the medieval village which survives as a series of well-preserved earthworks.
These consist of a central hollow way or street along which a modern but now
ruined drystone wall runs. North of the street there are three plots and two
buildings. The sunken sub-rectangular western plot measures approximately 17m
by 16m and contains faint traces of internal sub-divisions. At the plot's
south east corner, fronting the central street, there are the footings of a
rectangular stone building measuring 7m by 5m. The central plot measures about
8m square. Adjacent to this is a rectangular building platform and next to
this is the eastern plot which measures 13m by 8m. South of the central street
there are the remains of two buildings and two plots, with traces of other
buildings in a disturbed area to the south east. The western building measures
9m by 6m and fronts the central street. Behind it is a plot measuring 8m
square with an entrance on its western side. To the east there is a
sub-rectangular plot measuring 9m by 11m. East of this the village has been
heavily disturbed by military activity, but there are faint traces of a
possible building measuring 12m by 10m. Further east, and fronting the central
street, are the footings of a stone building measuring 9m by 6m. In a
disturbed area immediately east of this building there are two piles stones
which may be the remains of further structures.
It is not known at present whether this site was occupied continuously from
the Romano-British period into the medieval period or whether there was a
period of abandonment then later reoccupation. The plan of the medieval
village is virtually identical to that of Smardale South Demense medieval
village 12km to the south on the opposite side of the Eden valley. Early
medieval occupation of Smardale is thought to have commenced during the fifth
century AD and continued until the early 12th century when it was abandoned
in favour of a new site a short distance down the valley. A parallel can be
drawn with this site, which may have been abandoned in favour of new
settlement at the medieval village at Burton 700m to the south lower down the
hillside.
The ruined modern drystone wall crossing the monument is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

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.

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 past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cumbria-Solway sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, an area characterised by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads,
but with some larger nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally
favoured areas, established after the Norman Conquest. Traces of seasonal
settlements, or shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where
surrounding communities grazed their livestock during the summer months.
The Eden Valley local region is a rich agricultural lowland ringed by mountain
pastures. It is densely settled with small market towns, villages, hamlets and
isolated farmsteads. medieval castles and monasteries, a multitude of
earthwork sites, and the distinctive mix of Celtic, Scottish, English,
Scandinavian and Norman place-names all testify to the ancient and long
sustained occupation of this region.
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks
their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms
on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and
small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within
their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included
one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well
as below ground deposits. In the northern and western province of England
medieval villages occured infrequently amid areas of otherwise dispersed
settlement and good examples are therefore proportionally infrequent. Thus
their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for
understanding rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman
Conquest.
Despite some damage to the monument sustained during military training
exercises, the Romano-British farmstead and medieval village 540m north east
of the crossing point of Hag Lane and Lycum Sike survives reasonably well. The
monument is one of a number of Romano-British settlements located on the
hillslopes of east Cumbria and it will facilitate further study of settlement
patterns of this period in the area. Additionally it is a rare example of the
early medieval occupation of a site from an earlier period, and is one of the
few examples in north west England of an early medieval village which is
considered to have been abandoned by the 12th century. It will add greatly to
our understanding of the wider settlement and economy during the early
medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
AP No's CCC2801,28; CCC2802,29,31,33, Cumbria County Council, Warcop, (1980)

Source: Historic England

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