Romano-British settlement, 700m north west of The Heugh


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010046

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British settlement, 700m north west of The Heugh
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Birtley

National Grid Reference: NY 86705 80818

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.

Despite afforestation and some stone robbing, the settlement 700m north west of The Heugh is reasonably 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 settlement of Romano-British date, situated on a high spur above the left bank of the North Tyne. The settlement, sub-rectangular in shape, measures a maximum of 55m east to west by 34m north to south within a bank of stone and earth 2m wide and standing to a maximum height of 0.5m high. There is an entrance through the western wall of the enclosure which is flanked internally by two sunken yards visible as large depressions. Beyond the yards there are traces of at least one circular stone-founded house 6m in diameter. Some 26m east of the entrance a stone wall divides the enclosure into two. It is thought that this wall was originally the eastern wall of a considerably smaller settlement which has been expanded by the addition of the eastern part of the enclosure. The eastern half is occupied by an unusually large scooped yard, probably providing accommodation for stock, with an entrance through its eastern wall. This extension has been scooped as much as 2m below the ground level. Immediately to the north of this yard, and positioned against the north wall of the extension there is a level platform which it is thought also contained the sites of circular dwellings.

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: 25131

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 43' in Additional Rectilinear Settlements in Northumberland, (1963), 211-215

End of official listing