Romano-British farmstead in Riding Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008986

Date first listed: 26-Jul-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British farmstead in Riding Wood
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bellingham


National Grid Reference: NY 81801 84598

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 farmstead in Riding Wood is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of similar Romano-British settlements in the area and will contribute to any study of the settlement pattern at this time.


The monument includes the remains of a farmstead of Romano-British date situated on the top of a ridge commanding views over the North Tyne to the south and south west. The farmstead, sub-rectangular in shape, measures 42m east to west by 37m north to south within a broad ditch 6m wide and 1.2m deep below the interior ground level. There are traces of an inner bank of stone and earth on the eastern side of the enclosure. The ditch is surrounded by a counterscarp bank 4m wide, best preserved at the south east end of the enclosure. Within the eastern half of the enclosure there are two sunken yards, visible as sub-circular depressions a maximum of 1m deep. They are separated by a raised causeway which enters the enclosure through an entrance in its eastern wall. Immediately behind the yard, there are the remains of at least four circular stone houses 7m-8m in diameter. Limited excavation of the farmstead in 1958 by Professor George Jobey revealed that the two sunken yards were walled and contained subsidiary entrances; their floors were found to be set with cobbles. The stone huts were found to have flagged floors and contained reddened hearths and small stone lined storage pits; one of the latter contained part of a Roman pottery flagon. Other finds included an iron adze, found in one of the yards, a spindle whorl and pieces of quernstone used for the grinding of corn. All of these artefacts are thought to be Iron Age or Roman in date. A rectangular house was discovered on excavation to be of later construction as it was built over the remains of a circular stone house, whose walls had been robbed to provide the building stone. It is thought that this structure represents resettlement of the farmstead in post Roman times and is associated with a later field system around the farmstead.

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.

Legacy System number: 25071

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
MacLaughlan, H, Additional Notes on Roman Roads in Northumberland, (1867), 71-2
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960)
NY 88 SW 01,

End of official listing