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Prehistoric enclosure and hut circle, a Romano-British enclosure, and a Romano-British farmstead and associated field system north of Wolsty Hall

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Prehistoric enclosure and hut circle, a Romano-British enclosure, and a Romano-British farmstead and associated field system north of Wolsty Hall

List entry Number: 1013504

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Holme Low

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 08-Aug-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Aug-1995

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27662

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC - AD 400). They comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking uniformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields of varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They are an important element of the existing landscape and are representative of farming practices over a long period. Within the lowland landscape of Cumbria there are many discrete plots of land originally enclosed by stone walls, ditches, timber palisades, or banks of stone and earth, some of which date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC), though earlier and later examples also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were sometimes subdivided to accommodate stock and hut circle dwellings for farmers and herdsmen. The size and form of these enclosures may therefore vary depending upon their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classes provide important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The prehistoric enclosure and hut circle, Romano-British enclosure, and Romano-British farmstead and associated field system north of Wolsty Hall survive reasonably well despite the absence of any upstanding earthworks. Aerial photographs have identified below ground features which have been confirmed by limited excavation undertaken during the 1950s. The monument is one of a number of similar sites identified by aerial photography in the Solway Plain area in recent years and it will contribute to any further study of prehistoric and Romano-British settlement patterns in the area.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric enclosure containing a hut circle, a Romano-British enclosure which is situated within the earlier prehistoric enclosure, and a Romano-British farmstead and associated irregular aggregate field system. It is located c.100m north of Wolsty Hall on a low curving ridge of gravel. The site is visible as crop marks on aerial photographs which highlight features such as infilled ditches. The aerial photographs show an oval enclosure measuring a maximum of approximately 76m by 50m with an entrance at the eastern side. In the western side of this enclosure the aerial photographs show a hut circle, while in the eastern side of the enclosure the aerial photographs show the ditch of a circular enclosure with an entrance on its north east side. To the east of these features the aerial photographs show a rectangular enclosure measuring c.48m by 45m and interpreted as a Romano-British farmstead. To the north, east and south of the farmstead, and to the south of the oval enclosure, traces of an irregular aggregate field system associated with this farmstead can be seen on the aerial photographs. Limited excavation of the monument undertaken between 1956-8 concentrated on parts of the oval enclosure, the hut circle, the circular enclosure and the rectangular enclosure. This excavation confirmed that the oval enclosure was defended by a ditch and timber palisade. The hut circle within this enclosure measures approximately 14m in diameter and had a cobbled floor and entrances at opposite ends with postholes to support the doors. At the centre of the hut four large deep postholes packed with cobbles originally held the main roof supports. A small amount of Roman pottery found in the upper levels of the enclosure ditch fill was dated to the Hadrianic period (AD 117-138) and this, together with the fact that the hut contained no pottery of any kind, indicated to the excavator that the oval enclosure and hut circle were of a prehistoric date. The circular enclosure, by contrast, produced an assortment of Roman pottery dated to the Hadrianic period, together with other finds including two knife blades, a quern associated with remains of stone floors, and a stone lined well which contained more pottery allowing the excavator to date the enclosure to the first half of the second century AD. Limited excavation of the rectangular enclosure found it to be defended by a ditch and timber palisade. Internally the excavation found pottery and a complex of structures which indicated to the excavator that it was a native farmstead of the third/fourth century AD. All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Blake, B, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Excavation Of Native (Iron Age) Sites In Cumberland 1956-8, , Vol. LIX, (1960), 8-9
Blake, B, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Excavation Of Native (Iron Age) Sites In Cumberland 1956-8, , Vol. LIX, (1960), 7
Blake, B, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Excavation Of Native (Iron Age) Sites In Cumberland 1956-8, , Vol. LIX, (1960), 7
Blake, B, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Excavation Of Native (Iron Age) Sites In Cumberland 1956-8, , Vol. LIX, (1960), 9-10
Other
AP No RB 110,24, Bewley, RH,
AP No. RB 110,24, Bewley, RB,
AP No. RB 110,24, Bewley, RH,

National Grid Reference: NY 10548 51124

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 25-Nov-2017 at 12:16:29.

End of official listing