Romano-British settlement and field of cord rig, 625m south west of Rede Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015526

Date first listed: 07-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British settlement and field of cord rig, 625m south west of Rede Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bellingham

National Grid Reference: NY 86198 82837

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.

Cord rig cultivation is visible as a series of narrow ridges and furrows no more than 1.4m across between the centres of furrows. It is frequently arranged in fields of varying size with formal boundaries but it also occurs in smaller, irregular plots of between 30 to 60 square metres. Cord rig can be fragmentary or more extensive, sometimes extending over considerable areas, and it is often found in association with a range of prehistoric settlement forms and in association with prehistoric field systems. It generally survives as a series of earthworks and is frequently first noted on aerial photographs but it has also been identified as a series of ard marks beneath several parts of Hadrian's Wall. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrates that cord rig cultivation spans the period from the Bronze Age through to the Roman period. Cord rig cultivation is known throughout the Borders of England and Scotland but is a marked feature of the upland margins. The discovery of cord rig cultivation indicates that arable regimes formed a significant part of the local economy in these areas for much of the prehistoric period. Cord rig is therefore of considerable importance for the analysis of prehistoric settlement and agriculture; all well preserved examples, particularly where they are found in association with prehistoric or Romano-British settlements, will normally merit statutory protection.

The Romano-British settlement and cord rig 625m south west of Rede Bridge are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. They will add to our knowledge and understanding of prehistoric settlement and agriculture, in particular information about the relationship of the Romano-British settlement with the earlier cord rig will be preserved.


The monument includes the remains of a settlement of Romano-British date, and a field of cord rig, situated on level ground in a commanding position above the River Rede. The settlement, sub-rectangular in shape measures a maximum of 50m east-west by 57m north-south within a prominent ditch 5m wide and 1m deep below an inner bank 2m wide. The ditch is surrounded by a counter-scarp bank of stone and earth on average 3m wide and 0.4m high above the exterior ground level. There is an entrance 5m wide in the eastern side of the enclosure. Within the enclosure there are two circular depressions which are the remains of two sunken yards situated either side of the entrance. Each of the yards is crossed by a linear bank running east-west which are thought to be further sub-divisions of the yard space. Facing onto these yards are the remains of four stone founded circular houses ranging in diameter from 6m to 8m. Limited excavation carried out in 1957 by Professor Jobey to determine the nature of the settlement uncovered two of the circular houses and an area of one of the scooped yards which was shown to be paved.

Immediately to the west of the settlement there is a large field of prehistoric cultivation known as cord rig. The cord rig is visible as a series of narrow ridges on average 1m wide and standing 0.15m high. It is enclosed within the slight remains of stone and earth banks standing to a maximum of 0.2m high on the south and western sides. The prehistoric cultivation is thought to be associated with an earlier phase of settlement in the area.

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: 25078

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 38' in Rectlinear Settlements of the Roman Period in Northumberland, (1960), 3, 36
Topping, P, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Early Cultivation in Northumberland And The Borders, , Vol. 55, (1989), 161-181
NY 8682 A-F, Gates, T, Redeswood Law Fell - R-B settlement and cord-rigg, (1988)
NY 88 SE 17,

End of official listing