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Roman rural settlement 375m east of Chapel House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Dalton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4678 / 54°28'4"N

Longitude: -1.5363 / 1°32'10"W

OS Eastings: 430149.629844

OS Northings: 508145.210017

OS Grid: NZ301081

Mapcode National: GBR KJQS.56

Mapcode Global: WHC63.CYNS

Entry Name: Roman rural settlement 375m east of Chapel House Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021083

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35467

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Dalton-on-Tees

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Croft

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes buried remains of a Roman period rural settlement.
It is located on gently undulating ground on the river cliff to the south
of the River Tees 500m north east of Dalton-on-Tees. It is identified as a
dispersed enclosed settlement. The monument was first identified from
aerial photographs, taken in the 1990s which clearly showed buried remains
of two structures which conformed to the plan of villa type Roman period
buildings as well as a system of earlier ditches. The area was
subsequently the subject of a scheme of field walking, geophysical survey
and partial excavation all of which confirmed the presence of an important
Roman period settlement.

The Roman period settlement lay within a sub-rectangular enclosure defined
on the southern, western and eastern sides by ditches and on the northern
side by the top of the scarp slope above the river which flows
approximately 35m below. The southern and western ditches can still be
identified on the ground with the latter still in use as a hedged field
boundary. The eastern boundary ditch has been infilled but can still be
seen on aerial photographs. It is suggested that these ditches also served
as drainage and to provide flowing water to the settlement. The enclosure
measures a maximum of 160m north to south by 210m east to west. The two
buildings shown on the aerial photographs lie approximately 30m apart in
the centre of the monument. Partial excavation of the eastern building
showed that it comprised a rectangular structure orientated north to
south with wings projecting to the west at each end. This is a style
common to the Roman period and is known as a winged corridor villa. The
building measures 30m north to south and is 17m wide. The excavations
revealed substantial stone wall footings made from river cobbles and field
stones. The footings were found to be up to 1.1m wide and survive up to 1m
below the surviving top of the walls. Where revealed, the internal floor
surfaces were made of beaten earth. The western building was also
partially excavated and was found to be a similar sized winged corridor
building orientated east to west with the wings on the southern side. The
surviving parts of the walls revealed by the excavations were built of
stone. It is suggested by the excavator that the north and south sides
were not continuous wall lines but took the form of aisles. There is
evidence that this building went through a number of phases of
construction including the addition of rounded apses to the north aisle.
Significant amounts of roof tile, brick and painted wall plaster were also
uncovered during the excavation of this building.

A third complex of buildings was also revealed through excavation in the
south western corner of the enclosure. These structures are not visible on
aerial photographs but their existence was indicated by significant
concentrations of pottery, glass and slag found in the area during field
walking. The excavation was limited in extent but revealed the presence of
wall footings for a building measuring 20m in length. The exact size and
nature of this building is not yet fully understood. Adjacent to this wall
there was a well, lined with sandstone blocks, which was 0.75m in diameter
and 4.5m deep. The top of the well was capped with pieces of red sandstone
but prior to that it appears to have been used as rubbish pit as it
contained amounts of debris including Roman pottery, animal bone and
fragments of roof tiles. The pottery recovered from the site ranges from
native British wares of the local Iron Age tradition through to fourth
century Roman material. Analysis of the bones found during excavation
suggests that the settlement operated a mixed farming regime with cattle
also being used as beasts of burden.

In the western part of the monument there is a series of three ditches,
which appear to form the eastern end of an earlier ditched enclosure. It
is thought that these ditches extended further to the west, however the
extent and nature of survival of these is currently unknown. The extent of
this earlier ditched enclosure within the monument measures approximately
120m north to south by 90m east to west. Apart from the western building,
the currently known Roman remains lie within this enclosed area. A section
was dug through one of these ditches adjacent to the western building and
it was found to be 7m wide and up to 2.5m deep. The ditch contained
significant amounts of Roman period domestic rubbish and building debris,
which suggests that this ditch remained open and in use during the Roman
period. From the study of similar sites elsewhere in the north of England,
it is suggested that these enclosure ditches were associated with a Late
Iron Age settlement which was adapted and further developed during the
Roman period with the construction of more substantial rectangular
buildings, at least one being outside the earlier ditched enclosure. The
geophysical survey revealed further features below the ground elsewhere in
the monument, which were not archaeologically investigated. These include
a ditch extending east to west across the northern third of the monument
just to the north of the winged corridor building. This runs from the
eastern to western boundaries of the settlement enclosure and is
interpreted as a leat carrying water across the settlement. Further
remains revealed include a polygonal feature to the south west of the
western building and a possible road crossing the settlement from east to
west. The function of the polygonal feature is currently unknown.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman period dispersed enclosed settlements are discrete areas of
occupation incorporating a small cluster or even a single main dwelling
surrounded by structures and activity areas associated primarily with crop
processing, animal husbandry and craft production. The main focus of
occupation lay within an enclosure defined by a circuit of ditches, banks
and/or walls. Though size varies the majority fall between 0.2ha and 1.6ha
in extent with the smaller examples particularly prevalent in the north
and upland or marginal land use areas.

This form of settlement had a long tradition in England and its origins
can be traced back to the Middle Bronze Age. They were a particularly
common aspect of the rural landscape and represent foci for small scale
agricultural and craft production for social groups based in dispersed
individual farming communities. They are a defining characteristic of
rural settlement in most areas throughout the second half of the first
millennium BC and Roman periods. The longevity of individual sites varies
enormously from a single generation to 400 years or more.

The interiors of enclosed settlements were usually characterised by minor
internal fences, gullies or walls defining separate activity areas within
the settlement. These spaces became increasingly specialised for a wide
range of domestic, agricultural and craft activities. Enclosed settlements
were primarily small-scale agricultural farms. Both pastoral and arable
farming was carried out with mixed farming being most common. Around
dispersed enclosed settlements there would be the trackways and boundaries
of associated field systems, industrial areas and quarries, and
occasionally the cemeteries of individual communities.

They were not a static settlement type and significant trends can be
discerned between the first century BC and the second and third centuries
AD. Architecturally there was a change from the almost ubiquitous round
house during the Iron Age to rectilinear buildings and, in areas where
stone was locally or regionally available it usually replaces timber as a
material for building and boundary definition. Typically, the transition
to rectilinear architecture occurred from the first century BC in the
south east and largely from the later first and second centuries AD
elsewhere. Pre-conquest forms generally display few overt signs of
diversity in architectural sophistication and embellishment beyond size
and constructional monumentality. The transformation to rectilinear
buildings is often accompanied by little immediate major change in overall
sophistication but many sites in the south eastern half of England begin
to display marked change during the course of the second to fourth
centuries AD. A number of particular forms of the principal building
within a settlement developed by the fourth century including, the winged
corridor type, the cottage type, the aisled type and the halled type. As
agriculture became more settled so earth-fast and substantial
constructions such as corn driers, barns, wells, kilns and furnaces are
adopted over much of the country. On the majority of studied examples
there is little evidence of great wealth or centres of particular ritual
or burial significance. These settlements generally represented the homes
of small family or kinship groups of moderate standing though some
developed into relatively prosperous small `villas' during the later Roman

Dispersed enclosed settlements are recognised principally from aerial
photography of crop marks, earthwork survey or increasingly geoprospection,
and large scale field survey that includes surface artefact collection.
Excavation is rare (currently estimated to be less than 1% of the likely
total) and all sites which have been positively identified and which have
significant surviving remains are considered important.

The remains at Dalton on Tees have been shown by excavation, field walking
and geophysical survey to retain important evidence of the form and
function of the settlement. Of particular importance is the evidence of
substantial stone buildings of a particular type rare in the north of
England although common in the south east. The monument offers scope for
the study of the form and pattern and the social and economic operations
of a Roman rural settlement in the north east of England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Brown, J, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Soc Roman Antiquities Section Bulletin' in Romano British Villa Complex, (1999), 19-27
Brown, J, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Soc Roman Antiquities Section Bulletin' in Romano British Villa Complex, (1999), 19-27
Stobbs, G, 'Teesside Archaeological Society Bulletin' in The Roman Villa Complex at Chapel House Farm Dalton on Tees, , Vol. No. 6, (2001), 15-25
Vyner B, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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