Romano-British field system and settlement at Wheata Wood

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018473

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1999

Map

Ordnance survey map of Romano-British field system and settlement at Wheata Wood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

District: Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Ecclesfield

National Grid Reference: SK 32701 94312

Summary

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.

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the 5th century AD. They usually comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right-angles to one another. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to, or within, the field system. The majority of field systems are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practiced in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection. The settlement site at Wheata Wood with associated field system survives well, demonstrating a diversity of features relating to agricultural practice of the Romano-British period.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the extensive remains of a Romano-British field system and settlement situated in ancient woodland, visible as lynchets, terraces, cairns and embankments, together with traces of orthostatic (upright boulder) field walls. The field system stands on gently sloping ground on the northern urban fringe of the city of Sheffield. A series of low, stony embankments forming several enclosed areas are key features of the monument, indicating that the area was divided into a series of relatively small fields of irregular form. Within the enclosed areas are several cairns of small and medium stones collected as the result of progressive field clearance. Some of the cairns form part of the enclosure embankments. In two areas of the field system are a series of smaller and more complex enclosures which are likely to be domestic yards surrounding former dwelling sites. At the north western extent of the surviving field system are upstanding walls forming a small enclosure comprising large upright boulders. The irregular nature of a modern boundary wall extending from the enclosure, and its construction incorporating embankments and large boulders, indicate that at least part of the modern wall overlays a field boundary of Romano-British origin. The field system is interpreted as the remains of a Romano-British farming settlement, one of a small number of similar monuments surviving on the eastern gritstone fringe of the southern Pennines. Evidence of a similar settlement exists in the adjoining Handlands wood where limited excavation has also established a Romano-British date for the field complex. All gates, fences and posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. All drystone walls are also excluded, except for their foundation courses and the ground beneath them which are included together with a 3m margin. The wall foundations are included because of their Romano-British origins.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 3 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 31226

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983), 21-23
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983), 21-3

End of official listing