Farmstead and cultivation terraces, ENE of Stawhouse


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Farmstead and cultivation terraces, ENE of Stawhouse
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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 89349 30519

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.

Cultivation terraces are artificially created platforms found on hillslopes, and providing these with a stepped profile. They were created by ploughing around the hillslope following the contours. The effect of this ploughing was to cut into the hillslope and to spread soil out on to the downslope to form a level platform which could then be used for cultivation. Such contour ploughing prevented major soil erosion on the hillslope and probably also helped retain moisture. Such terraced field systems originated in the prehistoric period; they are found particularly in Northumberland and neighbouring Scottish border counties. They are one of the relatively few types of prehistoric field system which survive and are important for studies of prehistoric land use and agricultural practices. The relationship between the terracing and the settlement is particularly important as the settlement clearly overlies the cultivation terracing indicating that the terracing is earlier in date than the settlement. Well preserved prehistoric field systems are rare nationally. They provide important evidence of a carefully planned reorganisation of landscape and these particular examples are substantially intact and in good condition.


The monument includes a Roman period native settlement and surrounding cultivation terraces situated at the foot of White Hill and north of a plantation near Stawhouse. The location has fine views to the south, but is overlooked to the north. An earthwork oval enclosure surrounded by a single rampart encloses an area of approximately 0.15ha which is divided by internal banks into four areas. The northern two enclosures consist of two scooped enclosures and the southern enclosures consist of two enclosed yards. The south west enclosed yard measures 11.4m x 13.7m and encloses a later rectangular foundation within it. The rectangular foundation is 8.8m x 7.3m. The scooped enclosures in the northern half of the monument measure 14m in diameter and 15m in diameter. The remaining south east enclosure measures 20m x 10m. An additional bank exists to the south of the site and overlies one of the cultivation terraces indicating that the cultivation terraces are earlier in date than the settlement. The cultivation terraces are south facing and are located on either side of the settlement and to the north of it. The use of the terracing appears to culminate with the building of the settlement. The terracing follows the contours of the hill and each terrace varies in width from 3m to 5m and stretches across an area 400m long.

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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Books and journals
Topping, P, 'Northern Archaeology 4, part 1' in Stratigraphy of Early Agricultural Remains in Kirknewton Area, , Vol. Vol 4, 1, (1983), 25


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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