Two Romano-British settlements, two stone hut circles, field system and associated cord rig cultivation, 650m west of Nether Houses


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015529

Date first listed: 22-Aug-1994

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Two Romano-British settlements, two stone hut circles, field system and associated cord rig cultivation, 650m west of Nether Houses
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rochester


National Grid Reference: NY 82312 97090


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.

Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). The stone-based round-houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of the turf, thatch or heather roofs are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Frequently traces of their associated field systems may be found immediately around them. These may be indicated by areas of clearance cairns and/or the remains of field walls and other enclosures. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organization and farming practices among prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

A regular aggregate field system is a group of regularly defined fields of prehistoric or Roman date, laid out in a block or blocks which lie approximately at right angles to each other, usually with a settlement as a focal point. Fields are generally square or rectangular, and the blocks give ordered if irregular shape to the field system as a whole. They are characteristically extensive monuments; the number of individual fields varies from two to 50 but this is, at least in part, a reflection of bias in the archaeological record rather than the true extent of such land divisions during their period of use. The fields were the primary unit of production in a mixed farming economy incorporating pastoral, arable and horticultural elements. As a rare monument type which provide an insight into land division and agricultural practice during their period of use, all well preserved examples 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 very slight earthworks and its survival is frequently first noted on aerial photographs. It has also been identified through excavation beneath several parts of Hadrian's Wall. The evidence of excavation and the study of associated monuments demonstrate 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 later prehistoric period. Cord rig is therefore of considerable importance for the analysis of the 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 extensive settlement and agricultural remains near Nether Houses are very well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. Taken as a group they will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of prehistoric farming and settlement.


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


The monument includes the remains of a two settlements of Romano-British date, two stone hut circles and an associated field system containing cord rig cultivation, situated on a gentle north facing slope above the Wind Burn. The westerly Romano-British settlement, sub-rectangular in shape, measures a maximum of 21m east to west, within a rubble bank 3m wide standing to a maximum height of 0.6m above the exterior ground level. The enclosure is divided internally, by a bank of rubble construction, into two areas each containing a sunken forecourt visible as a large depression. At the rear of each area there are the remains of a circular stone founded house 9m and 7m in diameter respectively. The second Romano-British settlement, 75m south east of the first is also rectangular in shape. It measures a maximum of 30m north to south by 23m east to west, within a rubble bank 3-4m wide standing to a height of 0.7m above the exterior ground level. The enclosure is divided internally by a bank of rubble construction, into two sunken yard areas each with their own east facing entrance. The southern yard contains the remains of two stone founded circular houses 5.5m and 10m in diameter, each with an east facing entrance. The smaller house has been superimposed upon the enclosure bank on the south west side while the larger is situated immediately within the enclosure bank in the same area. A third house is thought to be situated at the north west corner of the southern yard.

A stone hut circle is situated 100m to the south west of the second Romano-British settlement; it is 8m in diameter within a stone wall 1.6m wide and stands to a maximum height of 0.2m. There is an entrance through the eastern wall. A second stone founded house 100m south east of the first is 4m in diameter within a stone wall 1m wide which stands to a maximum height of 0.5m.

An extensive field system is associated with the two settlements and the stone hut-circles; this includes the remains of several linear walls visible as low stony banks 0.5m wide and a maximum of 0.4m high running down the sloping hillside. The walls are a maximum length of 370m. Other shorter, low stone walls meet these long linear walls at right angles and divide the area into a series of small roughly rectangular fields. Areas of prehistoric cultivation known as cord rig are visible within some of the fields in the vicinity of the two settlements and the stone hut circles. The cord rig is visible as a series of slight earthworks forming narrow ridges on average 1m wide and standing to a height of 0.10m, separated by narrow furrows.

All field boundaries which cross the monument and the cruciform stone sheep shelter 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 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: 25102

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Charlton, D B, Day, J C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 5 ser 6' in Excavation and Field Survey in Upper Redesdale, (1978), 76-7
Charlton, D B, Day, J C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 5 ser 6' in Excavation and Field Survey in Upper Redesdale, (1978), 76-77
Gates, T, 'Rural Settlement in the Roman North CBA GP 3' in Farming on the Frontier: R-B fields in Northumberland, (1982), 32,40
Topping, P, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Early Cultivation in Northumberland And The Borders, , Vol. 55, (1989), 176
Gates T, 8297 A-E, (1978)
Gates, T, NY 8297 A-E, (1978)
Gates, T, NY 8297 A-E, (1978)
NY 89 NE 14,
NY 89 NW 16,
NY 9 NW 15,

End of official listing