Two Romano-British hut circles and three shielings on Holwick Scars 250m south of Hungry Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019455

Date first listed: 11-Oct-2000


Ordnance survey map of Two Romano-British hut circles and three shielings on Holwick Scars 250m south of Hungry Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Holwick

National Grid Reference: NY 91150 26284


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.

Shielings are small seasonally occupied huts which were built to provide shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on upland or marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was moved in spring from lowland pasture around permanently occupied farms to communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age (C2000-700BC) onwards. However, the construction of herdsmen's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farms only appears from the early medieval period onwards (from AD 450), when the practice of transhumance is also known from documentary sources and, notably, place-name studies. Their construction appears to cease at the end of the 16th century. Shielings vary in size but are commonly small and may occur singly or in groups. They have a simple subrectangular or ovoid plan normally defined by drystone walling, although turf-built structures are known, and the huts are sometimes surrounded by a ditch. Most examples have a single undivided interior but two roomed examples are known. Some examples have adjacent ancillary structures, such as pens, and may be associated with a midden. Some are also contained within a small ovoid enclosure. Shielings are reasonably common in the uplands but frequently represent the only evidence for medieval settlement and farming practice here. Those examples which survive well and which help to illustrate medieval land use in an area are considered to be nationally important. This area of multiperiod archaeology contains well-preserved remains of two Roman period native hut circles, and a group of three shielings. The hut circles form part of a wider Romano-British landscape in Upper Teesdale. This includes evidence of Roman period native settlements and field systems. The group of shielings survives well and will add to the sum of knowledge relating to medieval land use in the North Pennines. They form part of a well-preserved medieval landscape in the Holwick area, which includes other shieling groups on the scar, settlement remains and field systems.


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


The monument includes two Romano-British hut circles and three shielings on Holwick Scars, 250m south of Hungry Hall, between Eel Beck and Rowton Beck. One Romano-British hut is approximately 7m in diameter with earth and stone walls, 2m wide and up to 0.4m high. It occupies a conspicuous natural terrace about halfway up the scar. On the same terrace, slightly to the east is a zigzagging low earth and stone bank, 1.5m wide and 0.1m high. South of the terrace, higher up the scar and just north of a modern track, is a second Romano-British hut circle. It is 6m in diameter with earth and stone banked walls 2m wide and 0.3m high. The shielings consist of three rectangular buildings perched on the scar. The largest building is 15m long and 5m wide, with drystone walls of whinstone standing to 1.2m high and 0.7m wide. The building has three rooms which do not appear to interconnect. This building lies on the scar on a small natural terrace north of the hut circle terrace. A second building 8m by 7m is built into the slope below the east end of the hut circle terrace. The walls are 0.7m wide and up to 1m high. The third building lies at the top edge of the hut circle terrace, at its east end. This building is 5m by 3.5m with walls up to 1.2m high and 0.8m high. The remains of a drystone wall running along the south side of the building may be more recent. This group of three shielings is very similar to the slightly larger group on Crossthwaite Scar, further east (SM 34352), and the group west of Hungry Hall (SM 34357). All these groups of buildings are interpreted as shielings.

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: 34353

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 129-130
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, (1986), 96

End of official listing