Roman period native settlement and associated field system and trackway on north east slope of Brands Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016241

Date first listed: 11-Mar-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Roman period native settlement and associated field system and trackway on north east slope of Brands Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ilderton


National Grid Reference: NT 97958 24108


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.

Unenclosed hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. They take a variety of forms, some were stone based and are visible as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Others were constructed of timber and may only be visible by a shallow groove or by an artificial earthwork platform created as a level stance for the building. They provide an important contrast to the various types of enclosed settlements with which they are contemporaneous. Irregular aggregate field systems are collections of contiguous field plots which are irregular in shape (rectilinear or curvilinear in plan) and size and which are accreted around a focal point, usually a settlement. They are visible as irregular clusters of low, curving earthworks, rarely covering more than 10ha overall. Irregular aggregate field systems were used for small scale agricultural production by indigenous farmers in certain parts of the country for most of the Roman period. The longevity of use and relationship with other monuments of both hut circles and field system provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. The Roman period native settlement and associated field system and hut circles on the north east slope of Brands Hill are well preserved and will contain significant archaeological deposits. They form one of a group of broadly contemporary farmsteads and enclosures on the slopes of Brands Hill and lie within an area of clustered sites whose remains are well preserved. They form part of a wider archaeological landscape and will contribute to any study of the settlement pattern during the Romano-British 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 and associated unenclosed hut circles, a field system and trackway. It is located on gently sloping ground on the north east face of Brands Hill, overlooked by higher ground to the south. The ground falls away more steeply to the east of the site. The settlement comprises a set of double banks enclosing the stone foundations of at least two round houses. The outer bank of earth and rubble survives up to 4m wide and 0.5m high, forming an enclosure which is `flask-shaped'. The entrance to the outer enclosure is at the neck of the flask, thus forming a controlled entrance and defining a broad enclosed area between the inner and outer enclosure. The area between the inner and outer bank is divided into a number of compartments by low walls. The inner enclosure bank survives up to 1.5m high. The outer face of this bank, particularly on the west side, contains a number of large vertical orthostats, or upstanding stones, which appear to be placed for decorative effect. The entrances to both outer and inner enclosures face south east. The stone founded huts within the inner enclosure face east and overlook a scooped courtyard. Immediately to the east of the enclosed settlement lies a complex of at least ten stone founded round houses or house platforms and a series of small paddocks, or field plots, and field walls covering an area of approximately 2.25ha. The houses generally appear to be grouped in pairs, and range from 6m to 10m in diameter. The stone foundations contain a number of orthostats. Some of the houses are scooped into the hillside and two pairs overlook slightly scooped courtyards. One pair of round houses is partly enclosed by a semi-circular field wall; the remainder lie outside, but in close proximity to the field plots. There are the remains of at least three irregular field plots, up to 50m by 75m, defined by earth and stone banks, 1m wide and up to 0.3m high. There are further small lengths of walling and small irregular enclosures within and adjacent to the plots. A length of field wall runs westward from the outer bank of the settlement enclosure for a length of at least 100m. Aerial photographs indicate that it extends further but it has not been surveyed and as its full extent is not known, it is not included within the scheduling beyond this point. The north edge of the field plots are defined by a track, or hollow- way, at least 200m long, defined on both sides by a bank 1m wide and up to 0.2m high. This track continues eastwards, beyond the eastern limit of the settlement and field system, for a length of about 100m. The ground to the south of this has been improved and it is possible that other remains associated with the settlement in this area have been obliterated. The drystone wall and post and wire fence are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29336

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana, 4 ser 42' in Enclosed Stone Built Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 4SER 42, (1964), 53
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana, 4 ser 42' in Enclosed Stone Built Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 4SER 42, (1964), 53
Jobey, G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana, 4 ser 42' in Enclosed Stone Built Settlements in Northumberland, , Vol. 4SER 42, (1964), 53

End of official listing