Defended settlement and Romano-British settlement, 400m south east of Smalesmouth Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010043

Date first listed: 12-Jun-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of Defended settlement and Romano-British settlement, 400m south east of Smalesmouth Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Falstone

National Grid Reference: NY 73366 85489


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.

During the later prehistoric period a variety of different types of defensive settlements were constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hill tops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone- or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well preserved examples are believed to be of national importance. The two settlements near Smalesmouth are very well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the relationships which are preserved between the two settlements. They will contribute greatly to any study of the settlement pattern during the late prehistoric and Romano-British period.


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


The monument includes the remains of a settlement of Romano-British date, constructed within an earlier Iron Age defended settlement, situated on the north east facing slope of a local hill. The Romano-British settlement, roughly rectangular in shape, measures a maximum of 45m east to west by 52m north to south within the remains of a collapsed stone wall, now much denuded and visible as a scarp on all sides. There is an entrance into the enclosure in its eastern side carried into the interior on a raised causeway. Either side of this causeway there is a large sunken yard visible as a scooped depression. Beyond the yards, but fronting onto them, there are the foundations of at least two circular houses 5m-6m in diameter. Immediately outside the south east corner of this enclosure there are the remains of a third circular house. The Romano-British enclosure is situated within an earlier enclosure defined by two ramparts and a ditch. This enclosure is rectangular in shape and measures a maximum of 77m east to west by 75m north to south within an inner rampart of stone and earth on average 2m to 3m wide and standing to a maximum height of 1m. Outside the inner rampart there is a broad very well defined ditch 4m to 6m wide and surviving to a maximum depth of 1.6m. The outer rampart is 3m to 5m wide and stands to a maximum height of 1m. There are two opposing entrances 4m wide in the centres of the east and west walls. Immediately within the west entrance there is a ditched causeway which continues for some 15m towards the centre of the enclosure. The area immediately to the north west of the eastern entrance has been masked by the construction of a secondary enclosure flanking one side of the entrance. The plantation fence line which crosses the monument from east to west is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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: 25128

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
MacLaughlan, H, Additional Notes on Roman Roads in Northumberland, (1867), 69
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectilinear Sites of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1961), 371-3
NY 78 NW 08,

End of official listing