Roman period native enclosed settlement 370m WNW of Great Hetha defended settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015193

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 20-May-1996


Ordnance survey map of Roman period native enclosed settlement 370m WNW of Great Hetha defended settlement
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kirknewton


National Grid Reference: NT 88109 27521


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.

The settlement 370m WNW of Great Hetha is a well preserved example of a Roman period native enclosed settlement. The entire circuit of exterior banks are clearly visible, as are the terraces, interior scoops, hut circle foundations and associated yard area. Limited excavation has confirmed a Roman date for the latest phases of the settlement and confirmed that archaeological deposits survive well beneath the ground surface. 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 to the study of the wider settlement pattern during this period.


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


The monument includes an enclosed native settlement dating to the Roman period situated on the lower north west slopes of Great Hetha, about 370m WNW of Great Hetha defended settlement and 280m east of Hetha Burn. It consists of a series of terraces, one above the other, cut into the steep hillside. The terraces contain the remains of platforms and scoops and the remains of circular, stone founded prehistoric houses. To the east, immediately above the terracing, are a number of individual scoops cut into the hillside. The settlement is partly enclosed by stone and earth banks. Limited excavation of the site has revealed that it has had a complex history. The monument is situated on dry ground, immediately above the boulder clay which extends along the lower reaches of the Hetha Burn Valley. It commands views northwards along the valley. The site consists of at least eight circular stone buildings arranged in rows on three terraces, with at least two more buildings built on separate scoops above these. It shows traces of at least two main phases of development. The lower part of the site consists of the middle and lower of the three terraces and is surrounded on three sides by a substantial bank. The terraces are cut deeply into the hillside to form level areas up to 12m wide. The middle terrace contains the remains of at least four circular house platforms, slightly levelled into the surface to form platforms up to 8.5m in diameter. One of the house platforms has been excavated and this revealed the remains of a stone founded round house, 6m in diameter, with a doorway facing north east. The remains of a foundation for a timber house, with an associated hearth, were discovered sealed beneath the building. Timber buildings of this type are common in the pre-Roman Iron Age and this discovery is evidence of an earlier phase of occupation on the site. The lowest terrace would probably have formed a yard area, although traces of substantial structures were also detected in this area during excavation. The middle and lower terraces are enclosed by a substantial bank on the north, south and west sides, forming three sides of a rectangle. On the south west side the bank extends up the hill, in a much lowered state, to partly enclose the upper part of the site. The bank varies in width from 3.5m to 9.5m and is up to 1.5m high, traces of stone facing are visible in the outer face. Excavation has shown that the front of the wall was retained by a boulder kerb, with some of the stones being set in a natural slot in the bedrock and braced there with chock stones. Evidence of an earlier wall existing beneath the remains of the present wall on the north east side was also discovered. The entrance into the enclosure lies near the north east corner. It consists of a passage, 5m long and over 2m wide, through the enclosure bank. Excavation has revealed that the sides of the entrance passage were revetted with stone walling and that on the uphill side it ended in a pronounced `horn' at its inner end. Evidence for the position of a gate was also obtained and this indicated that the original width of the gated passageway was 1m wide. Excavation beneath the bank on the east side of the settlement indicated that there may have been an earlier entrance on the east side, leading directly down to Hetha Burn. The upper part of the site consists of the upper terrace, which contains the remains of at least four deeply scooped house platforms, up to 8m wide. Immediately above this, a large, irregular, scooped area, 20m by 22m, contains a further two scooped house platforms, one of which contains the circular stone foundations of a prehistoric round house. The upper part of the site, with its deeply scooped platforms, is of a different character from the rest of the site and may reflect expansion of the settlement up the hillside. Limited excavation of the site in 1969 has confirmed a Romano-British date for the main elements of the site. It has shown that the site has had a complex history and that original occupation of the site may pre-date the Roman Iron Age.

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: 24606

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Burgess, C B, 'Trans Archit Archaeol Soc Durham Northumberland' in Excavations at the scooped settlement Hetha Burn 1, Hethpool, , Vol. 2, (1970), 1-23

End of official listing