Waitby Castle enclosed Romano-British settlement and part of a medieval dyke


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Eden (District Authority)
Kirkby Stephen
Eden (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 75692 08321

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.

Despite some very minor damage by medieval ridge and furrow ploughing, Waitby Castle enclosed Romano-British settlement survives well and is a good example of this class of monument. It is one of a number of similar monuments located on the limestone hills of east Cumbria and it will facilitate any further study of Romano-British settlement patterns in the area. Additionally the medieval ridge and furrow crossing part of the settlement and a short length of the later medieval dyke to the north of the settlement allow the phasing of human activity on Castle Hill from the Romano-British period to later medieval times to be determined.


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Waitby Castle enclosed Romano-British settlement together with a length of medieval dyke. Waitby Castle is an oval-shaped hilltop enclosure situated on the summit of Castle Hill; it includes a group of five small sub-rectangular enclosures situated in the eastern half of the settlement. An inner stone bank, which originally formed the settlement's western boundary prior to enlargement, runs approximately north-south across the settlement and separates the group of enclosures to the east from a flat area to the west. The whole is enclosed by an outer earth and stone rampart which survives best on the northern side where it measures up to 0.5m high. Two parallel dykes run northwards from this outer rampart for approximately 80m forming a banked access way to and from the settlement. Also included in the scheduling is a 70m length of later medieval dyke. This is the northern end of a medieval dyke 2.2km in total length which forms a junction with the northern end of the settlement's access way. Limited excavation of the settlement in 1974 found that the earliest occupation dated to the second century AD; at that time the settlement was defended by a fence and ditch and contained cobbled yards. During the late second/early third century a new drystone perimeter wall was constructed and the outer ditch was abandoned. The enclosure was subsequently enlarged towards the west and an outer rampart constructed. All modern field boundaries 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Higham, N, Jones, N, 'Archaeological Journal' in Frontiers, Forts and Farmers, , Vol. 132, (1975), 40-5
Higham, N, 'Bull Board of Celtic Studies' in , , Vol. XXVIII, (1978), 150-5
Roberts, B K, 'Archaeological Journal' in Some Relict Landscapes in Westmorland: A Reconsideration, , Vol. 150, (1993), 433-55


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.

End of official listing

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