Roman period native settlement 200m SSE of Staw Hill defended settlement


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NT 88592 29866

Reasons for Designation

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.

The two enclosures on the southern slopes of Staw Hill form a well preserved example of a Roman period native settlement. The entire circuit of the exterior banks, interior scoops, hut circle foundations and associated yards is clearly visible. The site is situated within an area of clustered archaeological sites of high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological landscape. It will contribute to the study of the wider settlement pattern during this period.


This monument includes a native settlement dating to the Roman period situated on the lower slopes of Staw Hill. It consists of two adjacent enclosures of earth and stone banks. The enclosures contain several areas scooped into the hillside to provide level ground, associated with which are the circular stone foundations of several prehistoric buildings. The terracing of an apparently contemporary field system can be seen on the hill slope to the north of the sites. The full extent and nature of this field system is not yet fully understood, hence it is not included in the scheduling.

The northernmost enclosure consists of a complex of scooped depressions cut into the hillside at different levels. It covers a sub-rectangular area, 42m by 47m, contained within a bank of earth and stone, 2m by 5m wide, with a maximum height of 0.8m. The outer bank has suffered some damage on the north west side but is still clearly visible, with each face in this section clearly defined by a regular row of large boulders. The entrance into the enclosure faces south east. Within the enclosure are three main sub-divisions, each consisting of a roughly circular area scooped into the hillside to a depth of between 1m and 2.5m and between 15m and 25m in diameter. The largest scooped area to the east has an entrance through the enclosing bank on the north east side and is divided by an internal bank. A stone-founded hut circle, contemporary with the internal bank, opens into the enclosed yard which it forms. The entrances of both this hut circle and the yard are to the north east. A second hut circle, situated within the entrance of the yard, is almost certainly secondary. A third hut circle lies immediately to the west of the large scooped enclosure and opens into a smaller scooped area.

Seven metres to the south of the above enclosure is a second settlement. This is a roughly oval-shaped enclosure, c.47m by 42m, contained by a bank of earth and stones, 3m by 5m wide, with a maximum height of 0.8m. The enclosing banks form a bottle-neck entrance to the north east with traces of revetting at the terminals. On the east side of the interior are two areas scooped into the hillside. The northernmost scoop is a semi-circular area, c.15m in diameter and entered through the bottle-neck entrance. To the south of this is an oval scooped area, c.30m long, with a maximum depth of 1.2m. To the rear of the southern scoop is a contemporary hut circle, 8m in diameter, which opens into the yard formed by the scoop. The entrances to both these features face north east. A second stone-founded hut circle, 5m in diameter, is situated within the entrance to the scooped yard and is clearly secondary.

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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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