Round cairn 850m, and two Romano-British farmsteads, associated trackway, moated site, medieval settlement and field system 900m SSE of Middleton Dean


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019923

Date first listed: 22-Aug-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of Round cairn 850m, and two Romano-British farmsteads, associated trackway, moated site, medieval settlement and field system 900m SSE of Middleton Dean
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ilderton


National Grid Reference: NT 99508 21119, NT 99661 21235


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

Reasons for Designation

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

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 much of Northumberland, especially in the Cheviots, the enclosures were curvilinear in form. Near the Scottish border, another type occurs where the settlement was 'scooped' into the hillslope. Frequently the enclosures reveal a regularity and similarity of internal layout. These homesteads were 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. All homestead sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as nationally important. A Romano-British trackway is an unmetalled route way of varying length, maintained as a means of communication by prolonged use. They are visible either as broad depressions crossing large tracts of land and following crests or escarpments, or as short straight alignments between parallel ditches. They range from 2m to 50m wide and frequently linked farmsteads or villages. Trackways are a characteristic of the Roman rural landscape and were used for the movement of livestock and goods. Many Romano-British trackways are dated entirely by association with the settlements they served, although many had their antecedents in the prehistoric period. Their longevity of use and association with Roman rual settlement and field systems provide important information on the economic basis of the Romano-British rural landscape. Around 6000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat often intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350, and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. Moated sites, however, were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and size. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains. 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 gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Cheviot sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, the upland mass straddling the English-Scottish border. The sub-Province has not been sub- divided and forms a single local region. Settlement is now largely absent, but the area is characterised by the remains of linear dykes, field boundaries, cultivation terraces and buildings which bear witness to the advance and retreat of farming, both cultivation and stock production, over several thousand years. The distinctive, difficult upland environment means that many of the medieval settlement sites relate to specialist enterprises, such as shielings, but the extensive remains of medieval arable farming raise many unanswered questions about medieval land use and settlement, touching economic, climatic and population change. In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region, but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently include features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and Northern and Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas. Where found, their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. A medieval irregular open field system is a collection of unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips produced long ridges, and the resultant `ridge and furrow' is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to settlement earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. The round cairn 850m, and two Romano-British farmsteads, associated trackway, moated site, medieval settlement and field system 900m SSE of Middleton Dean are well-preserved and represent land use and settlement spanning three millennia. The round cairn will provide evidence of funerary practice and ritual activity during the Bronze Age. The structure of the covering cairn will reveal details of the manner of its construction, and evidence relating to the wider Bronze Age environment is also likely to survive in the form of preserved pollen grains. The Romano-British farmsteads and trackway will add to our understanding of the rural landscape and economy of the uplands during the Roman occupation. The moated site and medieval settlement will add to our knowledge of the diversity of medieval settlement in England, and their association with part of a contemporary field system will enhance our knowledge of agrarian practice at this time. Taken together they form part of a wider group of high quality archaeological sites on and around Dod Hill.


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


The monument includes the remains of a round cairn of Bronze Age date, two farmsteads and part of a trackway of Romano-British date, a moated site, a medieval settlement and part of an associated field system of medieval date situated on the lower eastern slopes of Dod Hill. The monument is divided into two separate areas of protection. The round cairn, which is contained within the first area of protection, is built of earth and stone and lies 18m east of the most northerly Romano-British farmstead. It measures 6m by 4m and stands to a maximum height of 1m. The two Romano-British farmsteads, part of the associated trackway, the moated site, medieval settlement and part of the associated field system are contained within the second area of protection. The first and most northerly of the two farmsteads, oriented north to south, is visible as an oval enclosure 55m by 30m overall. It is enclosed by a bank 3m wide and up to 0.75m high with an entrance through the south side. Within the enclosure, the interior has been divided by an earthen bank into two compartments each of which has been scooped into the natural slope of the hill. To the west of the entrance two hut circles abut the outside of the bank. Immediately to the north of this farmstead there is a subsidiary enclosure; this enclosure is D-shaped in plan and measures 28m north to south by 40m east to west, within a bank of stone and earth 2m wide and a maximum of 0.5m high. The second farmstead lies 50m to the south of the first, and it is visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure oriented north to south with maximum dimensions of 48m by 35m. It is enclosed by a bank 3.5m wide and up to 1m high with an entrance marked by four large stones through the east side. Within the enclosure, on the west side, is a raised area on which are the remains of four stone-founded hut circles. These are visible as level enclosures, the largest being 7m across, within walls of stone and earth 2m wide and 0.5m high which open into a scooped yard area. On a level area between the two farmsteads lies a hut circle, 5m in diameter with walls 0.2m high and an entrance in the east side. The more southerly of the two farmsteads backs onto a north-south trackway thought to be associated with the farmsteads. The trackway, which measures between 5m and 7m wide, is defined on each side by a bank which is replaced at the northern end by an alignment of large boulders. The west bank of the trackway turns westward at the south west corner of the southern farmstead thus creating a funnel effect, widening towards the moated site. The east bank of the track is overlain in places by medieval ridge and furrow cultivation associated with the moated site, although aerial photographs show its course more clearly as it turns westward in the direction of the moated site. The moated site is visible as a square enclosure which measures about 85m across overall. It is enclosed by a stone-faced bank of earth and stone 2.5m high with an outer ditch 3m deep and a counterscarp bank 0.75m high. There is a break in the outer bank at the south west corner. The main entrance lies through the east side where the inner and outer banks join together and a causeway gives access to the interior. Within the interior of the moated site, there are the remains of a later medieval settlement. This is visible as a longhouse divided into three compartments and a second rectangular enclosure divided into two compartments, interpreted as a stock enclosure. A third rectangular enclosure lies outside the moated site to the east. A bank which runs from the south side of the entrance in a north east direction merges with the trackway creating an irregularly shaped enclosure. An irregular medieval field system is visible as ridge and furrow cultivation remains, 4m wide from furrow to furrow, situated between the lines of the trackway banks which approach the eastern side of the moated site.

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: 34223

Legacy System: RSM


NT 92 SE 43,
NT 92 SE 45,
NT 92 SE 53,
NT 92 SE 90,
NT 92 SE 91,
SF 1346/37, Gates, T, NT9921A, (1978)

End of official listing