Two Roman period native settlements and associated field system on Coldberry Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017043

Date first listed: 31-Jul-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Dec-1999


Ordnance survey map of Two Roman period native settlements and associated field system on Coldberry Hill
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Jan-2019 at 18:42:36.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Akeld

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wooler


National Grid Reference: NT 97106 27362


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.

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 an ordered, if irregular, shape to the field system as a whole. They are characteristically extensive monuments, the number of individual fields varying between 2 and 50, but this is, at least in part, a reflection of bias in the archaeological records rather than the true extent of such land divisions duting their period of use. The fields were the primary unit of production in a mixed farming economy, incorporating pastoral, arable and horticultural elements. Less than 250 such field systems have been identified and, as a rare monuments type which provides an insight into land division and agricultural practice during their period of use, all well preserved examples will normally be identified to be nationally important. The Roman period native settlements and associated field system on Coldberry Hill are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. They are part of a wider group of archaeological sites whose remains are well preserved which survive in the northern Cheviots and hence form part of a wider archaeological landscape. They will contribute to any study of settlement and land use during this period.


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


The monument includes two Roman period native homesteads, an associated field system and trackways situated on the eastern slopes of Coldberry Hill overlooking the valley of the Humbleton Burn. The western settlement is visible as the remains of two conjoined enclosures, each scooped into the hillslope on the western side and defined by an earth and stone bank. The northern enclosure is scooped to a depth of about 2m with an entrance on the east side. Internally, there is a raised platform in the north west corner and a hut circle to the south which stands 0.3m high. The southern enclosure is scooped to a depth of about 1m with an entrance in the eastern side. The entrances of both enclosures lead into a sunken trackway, about 0.4m deep and defined by low banks on each side, which runs in a south east direction to join a sunken trackway along the eastern edge of the monument. The eastern settlement is visible as the remains of two sub-circular enclosures defined by earth and stone banks standing up to 0.4m high in the larger enclosure and 0.2m high in the smaller. The larger enclosure has an entrance in the south east side and contains two hut circles which stand up to 0.4m high. The smaller enclosure, or annexe, abuts the south west side of the larger one and is interpreted as a stock enclosure. Running in a north west and south east direction from the junction of the two enclosures are slight banks which form part of a wider system of fields clearly visible on aerial photographs, although more difficult to discern on the ground. The fields are roughly rectangular in shape and their enclosing banks vary in character from low spread banks 0.1m high to well constructed banks 0.25m high with upright stones protruding at intervals. Evidence from aerial photographs also suggests the presence of clearance cairns and cord rig cultivation within the field plots. These are contemporary with the field plots and indicate land use patterns within them. The field system is believed to be contemporary with the settlements and two fields are included in the scheduling. Further fields extend beyond the monument. A post and wire fence and a dry stone wall along the south side of the monument 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.


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

Legacy System number: 31731

Legacy System: RSM


Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle, Gates, T M, NT/9727/C, (1977)

End of official listing