Four Romano-British farmsteads 370m south east of Old Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015420

Date first listed: 15-Mar-1966

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Four Romano-British farmsteads 370m south east of Old Church
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Dec-2018 at 14:44:36.


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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Brampton

National Grid Reference: NY 51255 61233


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 Firth. 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 four Romano-British farmsteads 370m south east of Old Church survive reasonably well despite the absence of any upstanding earthworks. Aerial photographs have identified below ground features which have been confirmed by limited antiquarian investigation. The monument is located in close proximity to the Roman frontier system, and a coin hoard dated to the third century AD indicates 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 four Romano-British farmsteads located on a low ridge 370m south east of Old Church. The site is visible as crop marks on an aerial photograph which highlight features such as infilled ditches. The aerial photograph shows two rectangular enclosures which overlap slightly and are therefore of different dates. To the east of these two farmsteads the western half of a third smaller rectangular enclosure is also visible on the aerial photograph. The existence of the eastern half of this enclosure together with a fourth enclosure lying to its east, although not visible on the aerial photograph, has been confirmed by antiquarian investigation. The largest of these farmsteads is the most western. The enclosure measures approximately 105m north-south by 100m east-west and there are faint traces on the aerial photograph of an entrance at the mid-point of its western side. Overlying the north eastern corner of this farmstead is a later and slightly smaller rectangular farmstead. It measures approximately 80m east-west by 70m north- south and has an entrance at the mid-point of the eastern side. Faint traces of a hut circle are visible on the aerial photograph in the western half of the enclosure. A short distance to the south east there is a third yet smaller farmstead of which only its western half appears on the aerial photograph. Limited antiquarian investigation in the late 1890s found the enclosure measured approximately c.48m east-west by 45m north-south and that it was defended by a steep sided ditch measuring c.3m wide by 1.3m deep. This investigation also located a fourth farmstead immediately to the east; it measures c.45m north-south by 30m east-west, was similarly defended by a ditch c.3m wide by 1.3m deep, and has an entrance at its south east corner. These latter two farmsteads were cleared of stones during agricultural improvements in the early 19th century. At that time it was noted that they had a defensive rampart of cobbles laid on a flagstone foundation. A hoard of third century AD Roman coins was also found at the same time. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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: 27704

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland, (1840), 233
MacLauchlan, , Memoir Written During a Survey of the Roman Wall, (1858), 63
MacLauchlan, , Memoir Written During a Survey of the Roman Wall, (1858), 63
Haverfield, F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee for 1898, , Vol. XV, (1899), 358-60
Higham, N H, Jones, G D B, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers: Cumbrian Aerial Survey 1974-5, (1975), 34
Higham, N H, Jones, G D B, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers: Cumbrian Aerial Survey 1974-5, (1975), 34
AP No. AKI34. Cumbria SMR No. 305, Cambridge University Collection of AP's, Enclosures on Hawkhirst Hill,

End of official listing