Romano-British farmstead on Little Urswick Crags


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013822

Date first listed: 04-Dec-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British farmstead on Little Urswick Crags
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 04:40:25.


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

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland (District Authority)

Parish: Urswick

National Grid Reference: SD 26014 74100


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.

Despite a combination of 19th century stone robbing and the very early limited excavation, the Romano-British farmstead on Little Urswick Crags survives reasonably well with above-ground dry-stone walling. It remains largely unencumbered by modern development. The excavation located finds of late- prehistoric and Romano-British date, and the site will contain further remains, artefacts, and other evidence of this period. The monument is one of a number of Romano-British and prehistoric settlement sites in the locality. It preserves considerable easily visible detail of its layout and is well- known nationally. It will facilitate any further study of regional Romano- British settlement patterns in the area.


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


The monument includes a Romano-British farmstead located on the summit of Little Urswick Crags. This site is one of two Romano-British settlements on the crags; the adjacent farmstead, which is of markedly different shape, is the subject of a separate scheduling. This site includes an oval-shaped enclosure having maximum internal measurements of approximately 95m east-west by 71m north-south. The enclosure is defended by a stone wall up to 3m wide and 1m high. There is an entrance on the enclosure's south east side which leads into a roadway or passageway. To the south of this roadway are three irregularly-shaped stock pens, each defined by low stone walls, and at the western end of the roadway there is a fourth stockpen. North of the roadway there are two enclosures; the smaller is interpreted as a stock pen but the larger is sub-rectangular with an entrance immediately off the roadway. Within this larger enclosure, and adjacent to its entrance, there are the earthworks of a well preserved hut circle measuring c.12m in diameter. Elsewhere within this larger enclosure there are traces of stone wall foundations suggesting subdivisions or a rectangular structure. Limited excavation in 1906 found quernstones, a flint scraper, a whetstone, a few fragments of Romano-British pottery, and a thin strip of decorated bronze which was tentatively dated to the second - first centuries BC. A drystone wall crossing the eastern side of the monument 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: 27685

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dobson, J, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Urswick Stone Walls, , Vol. VII, (1907), 72-94
Smith, R A, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in A Bronze Fragment of Late-Keltic Engraving, , Vol. VII, (1907), 95

End of official listing