Southernknowe Roman period native enclosed settlement and clearance cairns, 280m north of Sutherland Bridge
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014871
Date first listed: 18-Mar-1969
Date of most recent amendment: 13-Jun-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park: NORTHUMBERLAND
National Grid Reference: NT 88843 25212
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.
Clearance cairns are built with stone cleared from the surrounding land surface to improve its use for agriculture and settlement. However, funerary cairns are frequently incorporated within areas of clearance cairns and without excavation it may be impossible to determine whether a cairn contains burials.
The settlement at Southernknowe is a well preserved example of a Roman period native settlement and associated features. The cairns will retain information on development of land use and agricultural practice, and possibly information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst prehistoric communities. The site is situated within an area of clustered archaeological sites of very high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological landscape. It will contribute significantly to the study of the wider settlement pattern during this period.
The monument includes an enclosed native settlement and associated hut
circles, clearance cairns and the remains of a field bank. All the remains
date to the Roman period. It is situated 280m north of Sutherland Bridge, on a
raised river terrace above the College Burn. The monument consists of a main
enclosure of earth and stone banks, with internal courtyards and the circular
stone foundations of several prehistoric buildings. The remains of two other
prehistoric buildings lie outside the enclosure to the west, two cairns and
the remains of a field bank lie to the south.
The settlement is situated on a broad, level platform of raised ground formed by an old river terrace. It is overlooked by the steep slopes of Black Haggs Rigg to the west and Hare Law to the east. The main settlement consists of a roughly oval shaped enclosure divided into two courtyards. It is enclosed within an earth and stone bank up to 6m wide and 1.2m high, with an entrance in the east side overlooking the College Burn. The interior is sub-divided into courtyards by a stone and earth bank running east-west. The larger of the two courtyards measures 24m north-south by 27m east-west. The rear of the courtyard is scooped into the ground surface to a depth of about 1m. The foundations of three circular prehistoric buildings, between 3.5m and 6m in diameter, are ranged along the eastern side of the enclosure and are partly incorporated in the enclosure bank. A fourth building is attached to the enclosure bank on the western side of the courtyard. The second, smaller, courtyard lies to the north of the main courtyard, it measures 14m by 14m and has an entrance to the east. Two circular buildings are attached to the bank which forms the west side of the courtyard enclosure. Outside the enclosure, the remains of five buildings are incorporated into the exterior bank. Three of these buildings, up to 8m in diameter, are attached to the exterior bank of the enclosure on the north side and a further two are attached to the exterior of the main courtyard at the south and west corners. Detached from the main settlement, at a distance of approximately 8m to the south west, are the stone foundations of a further two conjoined prehistoric buildings. They have dimensions of 5m and 6m and survive up to 0.2m high. Approximately 3m to the south of the enclosure are the remains of two stone cairns up to 4m in diameter and 0.2m high. These cairns are likely to be the product of stone clearance around the settlement. Beyond these are the remains of a field wall running east-west for a length of c.16m. The wall continues down the slope of the river terrace to the east, but is not visible beyond this point. The wall may continue to the west, on the other side of the modern road, however, this section has not been included within the scheduling as the full extent and nature of the remains in this area are not understood.
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: 24621
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana, 4 ser 42' in Enclosed Stone Built Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 4th, 42, (1964), 49
Topping, P, A Survey of College Valley, North Northumberland, 1981, BA Dissertation, University of Durham
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