Medieval farmstead and two prehistoric carved rocks at West Loup's


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016601

Date first listed: 19-Mar-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval farmstead and two prehistoric carved rocks at West Loup's
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016601 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 18:28:19.


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

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cotherstone

National Grid Reference: NY 96701 17238


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have evolved gradually during the past 1500 years or more. The Alston Block local region encompasses the high moorlands north of Stainmore. Away from the `specialist nucleations', (the clusters of dwellings and workshops associated with mining and the railways), the dispersed settlement forms include both seasonal and permanent farmsteads, as well as specialist sheep and cattle ranches. The latter were normally outlying dependencies of larger settlements or estate centres located in adjacent regions. In these upland environments, dating settlements can be difficult.

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a characteristic feature of the medieval rural landscape. They occur throughout the country, the intensity of their distribution determined by local topography and the nature of the agricultural system prevalent within the region. In some areas of dispersed settlement they were the predominant settlement form; elsewhere they existed alongside, or were components of, more nucleated settlement patterns. The sites of many farmsteads have been occupied down to the present day but others were abandoned as a result of, for example, declining economic viability, enclosure or emparkment, or epidemics like the Black Death. In the northern border areas, recurring cross-border raids and military activities also disrupted agricultural life and led to abandonments. Farmsteads are a common and long-lived monument type; the archaeological deposits on those which were abandoned are often well-preserved and provide important information on regional and national settlement patterns and farming economies, and on changes in these through time. Prehistoric rock carving is found on natural boulders and rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland, Durham, and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is the `cup' marking, where small cup-like hollows are worked into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the rings may also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also occur but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one of our most important insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. All positively identified prehistoric rock carvings sites will normally be identified as nationally important. Although partly obscured by the 17th century farm, the medieval farmstead of West Loup's survives well. The carved rocks also survive well and indicate the importance of the site in prehistoric times.


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


The monument includes a medieval farmstead, two prehistoric carved rocks and remains of the 17th century farm of West Loup's. The enclosing earthwork of the medieval farmstead can be seen partly enclosing the later buildings, and the two carved rocks are within this earthwork. The enclosing earthwork is slight, and consists of a bank, changing slightly in form around the farmstead. It is more substantial to the north of the buildings where the bank is up to 4m wide and 1m high. Elsewhere, typical dimensions are 2m wide and 0.5m high. The enclosure has a possible entrance at its north east corner. On the south side of the farm the enclosure is not visible amongst the derelict buildings and garths belonging to the 17th century farm. These farm buildings and garths occupy most of the interior of the enclosure, and obscure much of the medieval farmstead, although medieval remains are anticipated to survive well below ground. North of the farm buildings is a narrow stony bank forming a rectangle 8m by 7m, attached to, and overlying, the bank of the enclosure, and probably representing an early building phase. There are also two parallel banks 6m apart and 14m long, running westwards from the east edge of the enclosure. These may be the remains of a building, or may form the sides of a path or track to the farm house, predating the construction of some of the outbuildings. One of the two prehistoric carved rocks is on the south side of the 17th century farmhouse, east of the wall of a small garth. The carving consists of two cups. The other carved rock is 3m north of the north east corner of the northernmost building of the 17th century farm. The carving consists of one groove and at least seven cups, two of them with rings. The drystone wall forming the modern field boundary on the west side of the farm is excluded from the scheduling, although 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: 31793

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Laurie, T, Prehistoric Rock Art in County Durham, Swaledale and Wensleydale, (1998)
Beckensall, S, Laurie, T, Prehistoric Rock Art in County Durham, Swaledale and Wensleydale, (1998)
Laurie, T, The Archaeology of West Loups, (1993)

End of official listing