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Roman aqueduct, prehistoric field systems, cairnfield, enclosure and round cairn on Ravock

A Scheduled Monument in Bowes, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.5271 / 54°31'37"N

Longitude: -2.0623 / 2°3'44"W

OS Eastings: 396063.575709

OS Northings: 514649.778083

OS Grid: NY960146

Mapcode National: GBR GJ12.9X

Mapcode Global: WHB4J.9G6S

Entry Name: Roman aqueduct, prehistoric field systems, cairnfield, enclosure and round cairn on Ravock

Scheduled Date: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021117

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32098

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Bowes

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham


The monument includes a Roman aqueduct,prehistoric field systems,cairnfield,enclosure and round cairn.They are situated on Ravock,which is part of Bowes Moor,west of West Stoney Keld.The monument lies in five separate areas of protection.The aqueduct survives as a ditch and upcast bank,with some gaps,on the moorland south of Deepdale Beck for a distance of more than 3km.The source of the water supply was probably the headwaters of the Boldron Strand and Deepdale Becks.The aqueduct supplied water to the Roman fort at Bowes,known as Lavatrae,which is the subject of a separate scheduling.The line of the aqueduct originally followed the contours of the hillside from its source to the fort,maintaining a steady decline from 350m above sea level to 280m above sea level.The final section of the aqueduct before the fort has been destroyed by agricultural improvement.This section would have been a further 3km long following the contours of the hillside.For most of the surviving length of the aqueduct it is visible as a ditch and bank.The ditch is typically 0.5m wide and up to 0.3m deep.The upcast bank is typically 2m wide and 0.2m high.In some areas the aqueduct survives less well and is visible as a slight boggy gully,or as a slight step in the slope,as on the steep north flank of Ravock.At the east end of the surviving aqueduct the aqueduct crosses a pair of glacial ridges.In order to achieve this it formed a series of loops round the ends of the ridges and up the intervening valley.The portions of these loops that lie on the enclosed land have been destroyed,but those on the moor survive.Two areas of prehistoric field system are located at the eastern end of the surviving aqueduct each side of a nameless beck 900m west of West Stoney Keld.The western field system is located on the north east flank of Ravock on sloping ground facing north and overlooking a small tributary of the Deepdale Beck. It is composed of a complex of rubble banks up to 4m wide and 0.6m high.Some of these banks are linear and parallel to each other,enclosing narrow rectangular strips.Other elements of the field system are more curvilinear,sometimes forming large oval fields.There are at least fourteen cairns within the field system,several of these forming part of the rubble banks.Most of the cairns are small,between 3m and 5m in diameter and 1m high with one exceptional example at the south west edge of the field system measuring 11m in diameter.The Roman aqueduct runs through the field sytem cutting several of the banks.The eastern field system located 500m to the east consists of a series of low rubble banks and an enclosure.The banks are up to 3m wide and 0.5m high and enclose small rectangular plots.The enclosure is sub-circular in plan,13m across at its widest point and composed of earth banks up to 3m wide and 0.5m high.On the north side it is only visible as a slight stoney crest.Approximately 60m west of Ellers Sike the aqueduct crosses the east edge of a round cairn.The cairn is 13m in diameter and survives to a height of 0.4m.The cairn has had stone removed in the past for drystone walling.The grouse butt at NY94901455 and the shooting tack are excluded from the scheduling,although the ground beneath them is included.MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

An aqueduct is an artificial channel used to carry water.All known Roman aqueducts functioned on a gravity flow principle,whereby a water source was impounded at a higher level than the place to be supplied,and was then made to flow to it under the influence of gravity.Water was needed for domestic purposes including bathing andrainage,and also for some industrial processes.Three main types were built;pipeline aqueducts carried water through enclosed pipework which was normally ceramic,lead or wooden.Channel aqueducts carried water in U-shaped channels,normally a wooden or stone duct,which was either open or covered by stone flags.Leats were the simplest form of aqueduct,and carried water in an open channel dug into the ground and generally lined with clay.They often extended for several kilometres following contour levels.Bridges or other forms of support were used to carry the aqueduct over ravines and uneven terrain such as streams or rivers.The earliest aqueducts date from the period immediately following the Roman Conquest of Britain.These early examples are associated almost exclusively with military activity and provided water to forts.By the end of the second Century,most forts and also public towns had been provided with aqueducts,the need for water being driven particularly by the construction of elaborate bath houses,and the developing fashion of bathing as a social activity amongst both the military and civilian populations.Aqueducts were used throughout the Roman period,and some were still functioning into the 5th century AD.They were found throughout Roman Britain with particular concentrations along Hadrian's Wall.Only 60 have now been identified to survive.As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into Roman engineering skills and both military and civilian life,all surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.Prehistoric field systems in the North of England take a variety of forms.Regular and irregular types of prehistoric field system are widespread throughout the Pennine range.Large scale field systems with long parallel rubble banks are particularly typical of the north Pennines.The dating of these is often uncertain, but they are considered to date from the Bronze Age or Iron Age(c.2500-50 BC).Closer dating may be provided by their relationships to other classes of monument which were in use for shorter,known periods of time.Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another.They often consist largely of clearance cairns,built with stone cleared from the surrounding land surface to improve its use for agriculture,and on occasion their distribution can be seen to define field plots.However,funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated,although without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials.Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period(from c.3400 BC),although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age(2000-700 BC).The considerable longevity and variation in the size,content and associations of cairnfields provide important information on the development of land use and agricultural practices.Cairnfields also retain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.In the uplands of northern England a wide variety of prehistoric enclosures may be found.These range from relatively large,regular enclosures with earth and stone banks,to smaller,irregular areas enclosed by boulder walls.Most are dated to the Bronze Age,Iron Age or early Romano-British periods(2000 BC-AD 200).The larger regular enclosures tend to be dated towards the later part of this period,the smaller irregular enclosures towards the beginning.Their variation in form,longevity and relationship to other monument classes provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and land use amongst prehistoric communities.Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age(c.2000-700 BC).They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials.These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists.In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch.Often occupying prominent locations,cairns are a major visual element in the landscape.They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthern round barrows of the lowlands.Their considerable variation in form,andlongevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst late prehistoric communities.They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.The Roman aqueduct and the adjacent prehistoric field systems,cairnfield,enclosure and round cairn on Ravock survive well.The aqueduct is a good example of the smaller type of aqueduct which served forts,and forms an important part of the archaeological context of the Roman fort at Bowes.The field systems,cairnfield,enclosure and round cairn form an important part of a wider prehistoric landscape on Ravock,which includes other burial cairns,field systems,enclosures and cairnfields and are scheduled as separate monuments.They contribute to our knowledge of prehistoric land use and burial customs.

Source: Historic England


Ravock, Cleveland County Archaeology Section, A66 Archaeology Project, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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