Reasons for Designation
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 Cheviot sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, the upland mass straddling the English-Scottish border. The sub-Province has not been sub-divided and forms a single local region. Settlement is now largely absent, but the area is characterised by the remains of linear
dykes, field boundaries, cultivation terraces and buildings which bear witness to the advance and retreat of farming, both cultivation and stock production, over several thousand years. The distinctive, difficult upland environment means that many of the medieval settlement sites relate to specialist enterprises, once closely linked to settlement located in the adjacent lowlands, such as shielings, but the extensive remains of medieval arable farming raise many unanswered questions about medieval land use and settlement, touching economic, climatic and population change.
Alnamsheles medieval settlement, 600m west of Alnhammoor is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is a form of settlement which characterises the area and is therefore an important example of settlement diversity in England. Partial excavation has illustrated the longevity of the settlement and its complex constructional sequences. It will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of upland medieval settlement at this time.
The monument, which falls into two areas, includes the remains of a medieval settlement situated on either side of Rowhope Burn. In total, the settlement comprises at least 23 buildings grouped together in a series of steadings consisting of one or more rectangular buildings associated with a garth or enclosure. The majority of the buildings are within the southerly area with at least six further buildings in the area on the north side of the Rowhope Burn. The remains are visible as low earthworks between 0.2m to 0.5m high. The buildings are mainly rectangular in plan and vary in length from 4.7m to 25m and in width from 2m to 5m. The internal layout of the buildings also varies with some having internal divisions creating 2 or 3 roomed buildings and at least one has a cross-passage with opposed entrances dividing the building into two. The settlement is bordered by a fragmentary field system visible as similar low earthworks. To the south east, the settlement is flanked by an earthen boundary that forms one side of a hollow way leading down to Shank Burn.
Two of the buildings were partially excavated in 1979-1980 revealing their complex constructional history. The first was revealed to have three constructional phases with the earliest, timber construction phase, dated to the late 13th or early 14th century. This was followed by two stone-built houses darting to the later 14th or early 15th centuries. The latest phase comprised the present stone built house, which was divided into three rooms with living and working quarters at either end and a byre in the centre. Documentary evidence suggests that the village is the medieval settlement of Alnhamsheles. Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of the site, but are not included as they have not been assessed.
PastScape Monument No:- 1033829
Northumberland HER:- 1261