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Two Romano-British hut circles and three shielings on Holwick Scars 250m south of Hungry Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Holwick, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.6316 / 54°37'53"N

Longitude: -2.1386 / 2°8'18"W

OS Eastings: 391149.53104

OS Northings: 526281.018265

OS Grid: NY911262

Mapcode National: GBR FGHW.SH

Mapcode Global: WHB3X.3VW7

Entry Name: Two Romano-British hut circles and three shielings on Holwick Scars 250m south of Hungry Hall

Scheduled Date: 11 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019455

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34353

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Holwick

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham


The monument includes two Romano-British hut circles and three shielings on
Holwick Scars, 250m south of Hungry Hall, between Eel Beck and Rowton Beck.
One Romano-British hut is approximately 7m in diameter with earth and stone
walls, 2m wide and up to 0.4m high. It occupies a conspicuous natural terrace
about halfway up the scar. On the same terrace, slightly to the east is a
zigzagging low earth and stone bank, 1.5m wide and 0.1m high. South of the
terrace, higher up the scar and just north of a modern track, is a second
Romano-British hut circle. It is 6m in diameter with earth and stone banked
walls 2m wide and 0.3m high.
The shielings consist of three rectangular buildings perched on the scar. The
largest building is 15m long and 5m wide, with drystone walls of whinstone
standing to 1.2m high and 0.7m wide. The building has three rooms which do not
appear to interconnect. This building lies on the scar on a small natural
terrace north of the hut circle terrace.
A second building 8m by 7m is built into the slope below the east end of the
hut circle terrace. The walls are 0.7m wide and up to 1m high.
The third building lies at the top edge of the hut circle terrace, at its east
end. This building is 5m by 3.5m with walls up to 1.2m high and 0.8m high. The
remains of a drystone wall running along the south side of the building may be
more recent.
This group of three shielings is very similar to the slightly larger group on
Crossthwaite Scar, further east (SM 34352), and the group west of Hungry Hall
(SM 34357). All these groups of buildings are interpreted as shielings.

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.

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 pasture around permanently occupied farms to
communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns
reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age (C2000-700BC) onwards.
However, the construction of herdsmen's huts in a form distinctive from the
normal dwelling houses of farms only appears from the early medieval period
onwards (from AD 450), when the practice of transhumance is also known from
documentary sources and, notably, place-name studies. Their construction
appears to cease at the end of the 16th century. Shielings vary in size but
are commonly small and may occur singly or in groups. They have a simple
subrectangular or ovoid plan normally defined by drystone walling, although
turf-built structures are known, and the huts are sometimes surrounded by a
ditch. Most examples have a single undivided interior but two roomed examples
are known. Some examples have adjacent ancillary structures, such as pens, and
may be associated with a midden. Some are also contained within a small ovoid
enclosure. Shielings are reasonably common in the uplands but frequently
represent the only evidence for medieval settlement and farming practice
here. Those examples which survive well and which help to illustrate medieval
land use in an area are considered to be nationally important.
This area of multiperiod archaeology contains well-preserved remains of two
Roman period native hut circles, and a group of three shielings. The hut
circles form part of a wider Romano-British landscape in Upper Teesdale. This
includes evidence of Roman period native settlements and field systems.
The group of shielings survives well and will add to the sum of knowledge
relating to medieval land use in the North Pennines. They form part of a
well-preserved medieval landscape in the Holwick area, which includes other
shieling groups on the scar, settlement remains and field systems.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 129-130
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 96

Source: Historic England

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