Three Romano-British farmsteads and part of a field system on Heddon Hill 900m north west of Calder


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019934

Date first listed: 08-Jun-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Oct-2001


Ordnance survey map of Three Romano-British farmsteads and part of a field system on Heddon Hill 900m north west of Calder
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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: NU 00602 20421


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 during 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 monument 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 three Romano-British farmsteads and part of a field system on Heddon Hill 900m west of Calder are well-preserved and archaeological deposits survive well. Together they will provide evidence for the nature of Romano-British settlement and agriculture and will add to our understanding of the rural economy of the uplands during the Roman occupation.


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


The monument includes the remains of three farmsteads and part of a field system of Romano-British date situated on the eastern slopes of Heddon Hill. Further sites on Heddon Hill are the subject of separate schedulings. The two most westerly of the three farmsteads are conjoined. The most northerly of the two is visible as an irregular enclosure 23m by 21m within a bank of stone and earth 3m wide and 0.4m high. There is an entrance 1.5m wide marked by two large boulders through the east wall of the farmstead. Within the enclosure the interior has been divided by an earthen bank into two compartments. Around the western side of the interior are the remains of three stone-founded hut circles visible as circular enclosures up to 5m across within walls 1m wide. The interior of the hut circles have been scooped into the natural slope of the hill to a maximum depth of 0.5m and each has an entrance in the east side which opens into a yard. A fourth hut circle has been constructed outside the northern boundary of the farmstead; it measures 2.5m in diameter within walls 1m wide and 0.4m high with an entrance 0.75m wide through the east wall. The more southerly of the two conjoined farmsteads, oriented east to west, is visible as a sub-oval enclosure 22m by 15m within a bank of earth and stone 3m wide and 0.4m high with a stone-faced edge internally. There is an entrance in the east wall 1.5m wide. The interior of the enclosure has been scooped into the natural slope of the hill to a depth of 1.5m. Around the western edge of the interior are three hut circles up to 3m in diameter within walls 0.75m wide and a maximum 0.3m high. A fourth hut circle 3.5m across has been constructed outside the western edge of the farmstead. The third farmstead lies 240m north east of the two conjoined farmsteads. It is visible as a roughly square enclosure 25m by 25m within a bank of earth and stone up to 5m wide and 1m high. The bank has a sharp external profile and is flat-topped. There is an entrance 2.5m wide through the east wall of the farmstead which is now blocked by large boulders. A secondary entrance 1m wide has been made in the north wall. Within the enclosure the interior has been divided into two compartments by an earthen bank 1.5m wide and 0.2m high. The western compartment has been scooped into the natural slope of the hill to a depth of 0.4m. It contains the remains of a hut platform 3m in diameter. There is a rectangular embanked area in the eastern compartment, believed to be associated with stock control. A stone-founded hut circle lies outside the west wall of the farmstead. It is visible as a circular enclosure 6m in diameter within walls of stone and earth 1.5m wide and 0.5m high with an entrance 1m wide in the east wall. Two banks 1.5m wide and up to 0.4m high are attached to the hut circle on each side of the entrance; these are believed to be part of a larger enclosure which has been partly obscured by the adjacent farmstead. A field system associated with these settlements extends across the eastern slopes of Heddon Hill. It includes a rectangular field, clearance cairns, linear boundaries and lynchets. The northern extent of the field system is defined by two rows of cairns on average 2m by 3m, and short lengths of bank up to 0.3m high which define a corner of a field. Around the northern and eastern sides of the two conjoined farmsteads a circular bank 1.75m wide and 0.3m high encloses an area approximately 30m by 85m. The southern terminal of the bank is marked by a cairn of loose boulders 0.4m high. Projecting from this bank in a north and north east direction are two further banks which extend for approximately 125m and 130m respectively. The line of the north eastern bank is continued by a row of at least six cairns which are visible as mounds of earth and stone; they measure an average 3m in diameter and stand up to 0.6m high. One cairn is very compact with a stone kerb around its edge and is thought to be a burial cairn. Lying adjacent to the easternmost farmstead is a field. It is oriented north to south and is visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure 218m by 180m within an irregular bank of stone and earth up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m high which contains large boulders and stone facing in places. Within the field are a scatter of clearance cairns, lynchets and a circular hut platform. The platform measures 9m in diameter and the interior is scooped to a depth of 0.5m. Outside the south east corner of the field is a circular enclosure 15m in diameter within an earth and stone bank 2m wide which contains many large boulders. The interior of the enclosure is scooped to a maximum depth of 1m. A hut circle 2.5m by 3m has been constructed across the south side of the enclosure bank. A further circular enclosure lies outside the western bank of the field; it measures 15m in diameter and the interior is scooped to a maximum depth of 0.4m.

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: 34235

Legacy System: RSM


Gates, T and Ainsworth, S, Field Survey in Northumberland, part 2, (1981)
NU 02 SW 16,
NU 02 SW 38,
NU 02 SW 46,

End of official listing