Romano-British farmstead and associated enclosure 770m ESE of Old Church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014580
Date first listed: 07-Aug-1996
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This copy shows the entry on 11-Dec-2018 at 13:27:37.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Carlisle (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: NY 51753 61326
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The
international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through
designation as a World Heritage Site.
The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was
recognised by the Romans during their early campaigns through northern England
and into Scotland in the second half of the first century AD. At this time a
military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts.
Subsequently the Romans largely withdrew from Scotland and there is evidence
that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of
the second century AD. This position was consolidated in the early second
century by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall,
under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius,
subsequently attempted to establish the boundary further north, between the
Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but by c.AD 160 growing unrest amongst the
native populations of northern Britain and pressures elsewhere in the Empire
caused a retraction back to the Hadrianic line. Hadrian's Wall was then the
frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.AD 400 when the Roman armies
withdrew from Britain.
Stretching over 70 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was a continuous
barrier built of stone in the east and, initially, of turf in the west. The
stone wall was originally designed to be ten Roman feet wide and sections of
this width are termed broad wall. A change of plan shortly after construction
began led to a reduction in the width of the Wall to eight Roman feet, such
sections being termed narrow wall. Today, stretches of both wall types
survive, including some sections of narrow wall built on broad wall
foundations. For most of its length a substantial ditch on the northern side
provided additional defence. Where the Wall crossed rivers, bridges were
constructed to carry it across. Construction of the Wall was organised and
executed by legionary soldiers. From the beginning the barrier was planned to
comprise more than just a curtain wall. At regularly spaced intervals of about
a mile along its length lay small walled fortlets known as milecastles. These
were attached to the southern side of the Wall and most had a gateway through
the Wall to the north. Hence they controlled crossing points through the Wall
as well as affording space for a small stable garrison. Between the
milecastles were two equally spaced towers known as turrets. Together the
milecastles and turrets provided bases from which the curtain wall could be
watched and patrolled. Both the turrets and milecastles are thought to have
been higher than the Wall itself to provide suitable observation points. It is
often assumed that a platform existed on the Wall so that troops could
actually patrol along the wall top; it is however far from certain that this
was the case.
At the western end of the Wall a system of towers, small fortlets and palisade
fences extended the frontier system another 30 miles or so down the Cumbrian
coast and helped control shipping moving across the estuary of the Solway
As originally planned, and apart from whatever space there was in the
milecastles, provision for the accommodation of garrison troops manning the
Wall was left with the line of forts which already lay along the Stanegate. At
some point a fundamental change of plan took place and forts were constructed
along the line of the Wall itself. There are now known to have been 16 forts
either attached to the Wall or in close association with it. Some overlay
earlier features such as turrets or milecastles. At this stage another linear
element, the vallum, was also added to the defensive system to the south of
the Wall. This was a broad flat-bottomed ditch flanked by a pair of linear
banks. It shadows the course of the Wall for almost all its length, sometimes
lying very close to it but sometimes up to a kilometre away from it. The
vallum's main function was to act as a barrier to restrict access to the Wall
from the south. It also had a function in linking the forts along the Wall
with a method of lateral communication. When the forts were placed along the
wall line no provision was made for a road to link them. This situation was
clearly found impracticable and a metalled track was therefore provided in
places along the vallum between the north mound and the ditch.
Later, after the withdrawal back to the Hadrianic line from the Antonine Wall,
various refurbishments were made throughout the frontier line. At this stage a
new linear feature was added: the `Military Way'. This was a road linking all
elements of the Wall defence, running from fort to fort within the area
bounded by the Wall and the vallum.
Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was
often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late
fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its
armies from the Wall and Britain.
It now survives in various states of preservation. In places, especially in
the central section, the Stone Wall still remains several courses high and the
attached forts, turrets and milecastles are also clearly identifiable.
Earthwork features such as the ditch, vallum and Military Way also survive
well in places. Elsewhere the Stone Wall has been virtually robbed out and
only its foundations survive beneath the present ground surface. Similarly,
stretches of the earthwork remains, including sections of the Turf Wall, have
been levelled or infilled and now only survive as buried features. Although
some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient
evidence does exist for its position to be fairly accurately identified
throughout most of its length.
The Romans constructed their frontier system in an area which already had an
established native population. The imposition of the Wall into their lands
must have had a significant impact on the native inhabitants of the area. The
nature and extent of this impact, however, remains a matter of much debate.
The remains of several native settlements lie very close to the Wall line, on
occasion within the defensive system. These generally take the form of one or
more hut circles, usually located within an enclosure. They are interpreted as
small farmsteads occupied by family groups. Those immediately adjacent to the
frontier system are unlikely to have been occupied whilst the Wall was in use
and hence would pre-date the Roman presence here. Whether such settlements
were deliberately cleared or were already abandoned has yet to be ascertained.
The Romano-British farmstead and associated enclosure 770m ESE of Old Church survives reasonably well despite the absence of any upstanding earthworks. Aerial photographs have identified below ground features which have been confirmed by limited excavation undertaken by Blake in 1956. The monument is located in close proximity to the Roman frontier system and artefacts dated to the late third/early fourth centuries AD, which were found during the limited excavation, indicate that the site is a rare example of a native settlement which was occupied while Hadrian's Wall was in use. As such it will contribute to any further study of the relationship between Roman and native populations along the frontier zone.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a Romano-British farmstead and an associated enclosure
located on a low ridge approximately 770m ESE of Old Church. The site is
visible as crop marks on aerial photographs which highlight features such as
infilled ditches. The aerial photographs show two oval enclosures; the western
measuring a maximum of c.60m east-west by 45m north-south, the eastern
measuring a maximum of c.60m east-west by 35m north-south. Limited excavation
of the western enclosure by Blake in 1956 confirmed that the enclosure was
defended by a ditch and an internal timber palisade. The ditch measured c.2.7m
wide by 1.2m deep and access into the enclosure's interior was gained via a
clay causeway which had originally been surfaced with timber planks. Within
the enclosure the excavation located the foundations of a building measuring
approximately 7.3m square which had been divided up into eight small rooms
each c.2.4m square arranged around a small central courtyard. Close to this
main building further fragments of walls and floors indicated the presence of
farm outbuildings. Various artefacts were found during the course of this
excavation and these included pottery dated to the late third/early fourth
centuries AD, a small iron knife, fragments of a spindle whorl, fragments of
two querns and a flint lathe chisel. The wealth of artefacts found parallels
late 18th century finds when bronze objects including a lamp, a male
statuette, an ornament bearing the word IOVIS, and a late fourth century AD
brooch were found during agricultural work.
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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 27698
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland, (1840), 233-4
Maclaughlan, , Memoir64
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), 1-6
Ferguson, C, 'Proc Soc Ant London Ser 2' in Proc Soc Ant London Ser 2, , Vol. XVI, (), 422
Simpson, F G et al, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee for 1935, , Vol. XXXVI, (1936), 179-82
AP No. BC/57. Cumbria SMR No 244, St Joseph. Cambridge Collection of AP's., Kirkby Moor,
AP No. BC/57. Cumbria SMR No. 244, St Joseph. The Cambridge Collection., Kirkby Moor,
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing