Roman period aggregate village on Coldsmouth Hill, 650m south east of St Ethelrede's Chapel


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Roman period aggregate village on Coldsmouth Hill, 650m south east of St Ethelrede's Chapel
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NT 85282 29091

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 Roman period aggregate village on Coldsmouth Hill is well preserved and will contain significant archaeological deposits. The settlement is situated within an area of clustered archaeological sites of high quality and forms part of a wider archaeological landscape in the Cheviots. The grouping of several contemporary settlements and stock enclosures to form a village along with trackways and a field boundary will contribute to any study of the wider settlement pattern during this period.


The monument includes a Roman period aggregate village situated around the north west slope of Coldsmouth Hill between the 180m and 200m contours. It consists of ten enclosures, each scooped into the hillside and defined by earth and stone banks. Five enclosures contain circular stone foundations of prehistoric buildings. To the east of the most northerly settlement are traces of linear banks, probably associated with a contemporary field system. However, their extent and nature are not fully understood, hence they are not included in the scheduling. Medieval ridge and furrow runs up to the north east side of the village. It is also not included in the scheduling. The most northerly settlement comprises two adjacent enclosures: north and south. The southern enclosure, oval shaped, measures c.57m by 62m and is enclosed by a bank up to 5m wide and 1.5m high with a clearly defined stone kerb around its whole circuit; there is an entrance 2m wide in the east side. On the south side the bank diminishes and the edge of the enclosure is marked by a deep scoop; beyond this edge is a level area 4m-5m wide. On the south east side there is an external ditch, 1.5m deep by 3m wide, which has the appearance of a hollow way leading from the entrance to the level area above the southern edge of the enclosure. Inside the enclosure the scooped edge runs down to a rock outcrop and below is a roughly level area behind the entrance. Two further platforms bear the remains of five stone founded hut circles 4m-8m in diameter and up to 0.3m high. Along the north east section of the enclosure bank three stone founded hut circles, 3m-5m in diameter and up to 0.3m high, have been constructed within its width and are clearly secondary; all have a south west entrance c.1m wide into the enclosure. Abutting the north edge of the southern enclosure lies the second enclosure. It is irregular in shape and consists of four scooped platforms; there is no enclosing bank or single entrance into the settlement. On the level area between the two enclosures on the west side there are traces of a possible stone founded hut circle, 4m in diameter and 0.3m high. The most southerly platform measures internally 23m east west by 6m north south and is scooped to a depth of 3m on the south; it lies immediately against the first enclosure and is separated from the next platform by a bank 1.5m wide and up to 1m high. The second platform, roughly triangular in shape, measures 23m east-west by 6m north-south and is scooped to a depth of 3m. Along the north west edge of this scoop lies a spread bank of earth and stone, up to 7m wide, which connects it with the third platform. This platform, roughly oval in shape, measures 8m in diameter and is scooped to a depth of 1.5m; there is a possible entrance 1m wide on the north east side. The fourth platform lies to the east of the third and is 5m in diameter; there is no apparent entrance between the two. To the west of the settlement described above are a group of five scooped enclosures, three of which are connected by an earth and stone bank. The most northerly enclosure in the group is oval shaped and measures 46m north-south by 26m east-west. It is defined by a bank 3m-5m wide and up to 0.3m high and scooped to a maximum depth of 2m on the south. Around the north, west and south sides of the enclosure are a series of large boulders which appear to define a level platform or annexe up to 10m wide. Running south from the edge of the enclosure is a linear bank c.73m long, 3m-4m wide and up to 0.5m high. It runs toward the second oval scooped enclosure which measures 23m north- south by 25m east-west and is defined on the north, east and west sides by a bank, 3.5m wide and up to 0.5m high; this enclosure lies 50m SSW of the first settlement described above. On the south the enclosure is scooped to a maximum depth of 2m. There is a probable entrance 3m wide in the north side which contains a large displaced boulder. Inside the enclosure, on the western side, is an uneven sub circular platform, it measures 6m north-south by 8m east-west and stands 1m high. There are stones visible on the surface which may indicate a hut platform. In front of this enclosure, on the northern side, a 4m wide platform is formed by the linear bank which turns westward and runs for c.110m downhill to the third scooped enclosure. The linear bank has the appearance of a terrace for the first 60m downhill, it measures an average 4m wide and has stone visible on the northern edge possibly acting as revetting. Beyond this the bank is more sinuous and measures 3m wide by 0.3m high; several large stones are visible at intervals along its length. The bank runs to the scooped edge of the third roughly oval shaped enclosure. It measures 29m north-south by 37m east-west and is defined by a bank spread up to 6m wide and 0.3m high, except on the south east where it is scooped to a depth of 2m. The enclosing bank turns inwards for c.5m on the south west forming a probable entrance in the south side. Seventeen metres SSW of the third enclosure lies another oval enclosure 27m north-south by 35m east-west. It is defined by an earth and stone bank up to 5m wide and 0.4m high, except on the south west where it is scooped to a depth of c.1.5m. These four enclosures are interpreted as stock enclosures associated with the adjacent settlements. A fifth enclosure lies 38m SSW of the fourth; sub oval in shape it measures 28m by 37m with a slight projection on the north east side forming an irregular shaped platform 7m by 6m. The enclosure is defined by a bank 2m-5m wide with a maximum height of 2m and is enhanced by the natural slope. On the south east it is scooped up to 5m deep and there is a probable entrance 4m wide in the south west side. Inside the enclosure the ground is uneven with evidence of two possible hut circles, each c.8m in diameter. One lies on a platform near the southern edge of the scoop and is composed of large irregular boulders, the second lies in the bottom of the scoop. Beyond the entrance, to the west, runs a deep hollow with the appearance of a hollow way; it measures up to 1.5m deep by 3m wide. The hollow way continues westward as a trackway 3m wide and runs past another settlement which consists of one double and two single enclosures along the 180m contour; it appears to be contemporary. The trackway is slightly terraced into the hillside, its western edge marked by a bank 2m wide and up to 1m high. The trackway is aligned roughly north south and passes 8m west of the first enclosure, runs against the western bank of the second, double, enclosure and appears to run through the most southerly enclosure. The first enclosure in this settlement, sub-circular in shape, measures 23m in diameter and is enclosed by a bank 4m wide and up to 0.4m high internally, enhanced by the natural slope externally. On the south east side the enclosure is scooped to a maximum depth of 5m. There is an entrance 2m wide in the north east side. Internally, there are two possible hut circles each 3m in diameter. About 12m south lies a double enclosure which overall measures 59m north-south by 34m east west. It consists of two sub oval shaped areas, roughly equal in size, scooped into the hillside to a depth of 5m on the east side. On the remaining sides they are enclosed by an earth and stone bank 2m wide and 0.5m high internally, enhanced by the natural slope externally; the two areas are separated by a bank 20m long, 4m wide and 1m high. The northern area has an entrance 2m wide in the north side and to the east there are two hut circles built into the bank, each 3m in diameter. The southern area is subdivided in the north west by a slight bank and has an entrance 2.5m wide in the south side. From the southern edge of the enclosure a field bank runs south for 15m then turns at right angles and runs east, uphill, for 30m. The bank is 2m wide by 0.5m high with massive kerb stones along its southern edge and appears to be contemporary with the settlement. Eleven metres to the south west lies a third enclosure, oval in shape, it measures 32m by 19m and is enclosed by a bank on the west which is spread to 4m wide and stands up to 0.5m high; on the east the enclosure is scooped to a maximum depth of 3m. On the south west side a hut circle platform, 10m in diameter with kerb stones, forms a blister or adjunct to the bank. A large stone on the south side may mark the position of an entrance. This group is interpreted as a farmstead with stock enclosures and field boundary and a possible associated trackway or droveway. Two fence posts in the most northerly of the three enclosures connected by the linear bank are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath 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:
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Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in A note on scooped enclosures in Northumberland, , Vol. 40, (1962), 47-58
Newcastle University AP Collection, Gates, T, NT/8529/C, (1982)
NT 82 NE 35,
NT 82 NE 36,


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.

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