Romano-British farmstead 570m west of Woolaw


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009373

Date first listed: 18-Jun-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British farmstead 570m west of Woolaw
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2018 at 14:24:58.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rochester


National Grid Reference: NY 81511 98451


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 at Woolaw is very 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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of a farmstead of Romano-British date, situated on a local knoll overlooking the valley of the River Rede. The farmstead, sub rectangular in shape, measures a maximum of 37m north to south by 39m east to west, within a broad bank of stone and earth 2m-3m wide standing to a height of 0.9m above the exterior ground level. Within the farmstead two sunken yards, visible as irregular depressions, lie in the eastern part; each is reached through an entrance placed in the east wall of the farmstead. Fronting onto these yards are the remains of four stone-founded circular houses ranging in size from 4m to 7m in diameter, each yard serving a pair of houses. The houses are unusually placed in linear fashion across the centre of the farmstead. During partial excavation in 1977 the area of the south eastern gateway was shown to be paved with stone slabs, which continued as a path across the sunken yards in the direction of the houses. The remainder of the yard was paved with small tightly packed cobbles. Excavation also uncovered a narrow ditch, presumably dug for drainage purposes, running parallel to the south wall of the farmstead. A similar ditch, 2m-3m wide, is visible around the western wall of the farmstead. During the excavations, pieces of native pottery, part of a glass bangle, a jet bead and parts of a quern stone used for the grinding of corn were uncovered. There is a hollow way running parallel with the north wall of the settlement; this was used as a route in medieval times between the villages of Burdhope and Evistones but it is thought that its origins may lie in an earlier Romano-British route reused in the medieval period.

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: 25088

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Wake, T, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940), 77
Charlton, D B, Day, J C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 5 ser 6' in Excavation and Field Survey in Upper Redesdale, (1978), 62-72
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 2' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 2, (1947), 166
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960), 36
acc no 1978.18, Museum of Antiquities Newcastle, (1978)
NY 89 NW 05,

End of official listing