Romano-British farmstead and post-medieval farmstead at Watch Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013968

Date first listed: 09-Feb-1984

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British farmstead and post-medieval farmstead at Watch Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 18:51:11.


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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Waterhead

National Grid Reference: NY 59475 67532


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.

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a characteristic feature of the medieval and immediate post-medieval rural landscape. The sites of many farmsteads have been occupied down to the present day but others were abandoned as a result of, for example, declining economic viability, enclosure or emparkment. In the northern border areas, recurring cross border raids and military activities also disrupted agricultural life and led to abandonments. Farmsteads are a common and long-lived monument type; the archaeological deposits on those which were abandoned are often well preserved and provide important information on regional and national settlement patterns and farming economies, and on changes in these through time. The Romano-British farmstead and post-medieval farmstead at Watch Hill survives well and its earthworks remain well preserved. It is largely unencumbered by modern development and is a rare example regionally of a Romano-British farmstead which was reused as a farmstead during the late 16th/early 17th centuries. Archaeological deposits associated with both phases of its use will survive well and, additionally, the monument will contribute to the study of 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, the site of which was later reused as a post-medieval farmstead. It is located on the summit of Watch Hill from where it commands extensive views in all directions. It includes an earth and stone bank or rampart up to 5m wide and 1m high which encloses a rectangular area with rounded corners measuring approximately 60m east-west by 40m north-south internally. Flanking this rampart is a partly infilled outer ditch c.4m wide by 0.6m deep and an outer bank up to 2.5m wide by 0.6m high. Access into the enclosure's interior is by an entrance close to the mid-point of the western side. A sunken trackway leads from this entrance into the enclosure and it is flanked on either side by rectangular platforms in the western half of the enclosure. Towards the centre of the enclosure the trackway fades out and beyond it, in the eastern half, there is a large platform measuring approximately 25m by 15.5m. The rectangular enclosure, with its rampart, ditch and outer bank is typical of a Romano-British farmstead. The interior would have contained huts and stock enclosures, however later reuse of the site has obscured the surface traces of the interior layout of the Romano-British farmstead. Local estate documents record a tenement at Watch Hill in 1609 and it is with this phase of occupation that the rectangular building platforms are associated. 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 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: 27696

Legacy System: RSM


AM107, Fairless, K J, Settlement on Watch Hill, (1994)
AM107, Fairless, K J, Settlement on Watch Hill, (1994)
FMW Report, Crow, J, Settlement at Watch Hill, (1989)
FMW Report, Crow, J, Settlement at Watch Hill, (1989)

End of official listing