Roman rural settlement 375m east of Chapel House Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021083

Date first listed: 11-Aug-2003


Ordnance survey map of Roman rural settlement 375m east of Chapel House Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Richmondshire (District Authority)

Parish: Dalton-on-Tees

National Grid Reference: NZ 30144 08149


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

Reasons for Designation

Roman period dispersed enclosed settlements are discrete areas of occupation incorporating a small cluster or even a single main dwelling surrounded by structures and activity areas associated primarily with crop processing, animal husbandry and craft production. The main focus of occupation lay within an enclosure defined by a circuit of ditches, banks and/or walls. Though size varies the majority fall between 0.2ha and 1.6ha in extent with the smaller examples particularly prevalent in the north and upland or marginal land use areas.

This form of settlement had a long tradition in England and its origins can be traced back to the Middle Bronze Age. They were a particularly common aspect of the rural landscape and represent foci for small scale agricultural and craft production for social groups based in dispersed individual farming communities. They are a defining characteristic of rural settlement in most areas throughout the second half of the first millennium BC and Roman periods. The longevity of individual sites varies enormously from a single generation to 400 years or more.

The interiors of enclosed settlements were usually characterised by minor internal fences, gullies or walls defining separate activity areas within the settlement. These spaces became increasingly specialised for a wide range of domestic, agricultural and craft activities. Enclosed settlements were primarily small-scale agricultural farms. Both pastoral and arable farming was carried out with mixed farming being most common. Around dispersed enclosed settlements there would be the trackways and boundaries of associated field systems, industrial areas and quarries, and occasionally the cemeteries of individual communities.

They were not a static settlement type and significant trends can be discerned between the first century BC and the second and third centuries AD. Architecturally there was a change from the almost ubiquitous round house during the Iron Age to rectilinear buildings and, in areas where stone was locally or regionally available it usually replaces timber as a material for building and boundary definition. Typically, the transition to rectilinear architecture occurred from the first century BC in the south east and largely from the later first and second centuries AD elsewhere. Pre-conquest forms generally display few overt signs of diversity in architectural sophistication and embellishment beyond size and constructional monumentality. The transformation to rectilinear buildings is often accompanied by little immediate major change in overall sophistication but many sites in the south eastern half of England begin to display marked change during the course of the second to fourth centuries AD. A number of particular forms of the principal building within a settlement developed by the fourth century including, the winged corridor type, the cottage type, the aisled type and the halled type. As agriculture became more settled so earth-fast and substantial constructions such as corn driers, barns, wells, kilns and furnaces are adopted over much of the country. On the majority of studied examples there is little evidence of great wealth or centres of particular ritual or burial significance. These settlements generally represented the homes of small family or kinship groups of moderate standing though some developed into relatively prosperous small `villas' during the later Roman period.

Dispersed enclosed settlements are recognised principally from aerial photography of crop marks, earthwork survey or increasingly geoprospection, and large scale field survey that includes surface artefact collection. Excavation is rare (currently estimated to be less than 1% of the likely total) and all sites which have been positively identified and which have significant surviving remains are considered important.

The remains at Dalton on Tees have been shown by excavation, field walking and geophysical survey to retain important evidence of the form and function of the settlement. Of particular importance is the evidence of substantial stone buildings of a particular type rare in the north of England although common in the south east. The monument offers scope for the study of the form and pattern and the social and economic operations of a Roman rural settlement in the north east of England.


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


The monument includes buried remains of a Roman period rural settlement. It is located on gently undulating ground on the river cliff to the south of the River Tees 500m north east of Dalton-on-Tees. It is identified as a dispersed enclosed settlement. The monument was first identified from aerial photographs, taken in the 1990s which clearly showed buried remains of two structures which conformed to the plan of villa type Roman period buildings as well as a system of earlier ditches. The area was subsequently the subject of a scheme of field walking, geophysical survey and partial excavation all of which confirmed the presence of an important Roman period settlement.

The Roman period settlement lay within a sub-rectangular enclosure defined on the southern, western and eastern sides by ditches and on the northern side by the top of the scarp slope above the river which flows approximately 35m below. The southern and western ditches can still be identified on the ground with the latter still in use as a hedged field boundary. The eastern boundary ditch has been infilled but can still be seen on aerial photographs. It is suggested that these ditches also served as drainage and to provide flowing water to the settlement. The enclosure measures a maximum of 160m north to south by 210m east to west. The two buildings shown on the aerial photographs lie approximately 30m apart in the centre of the monument. Partial excavation of the eastern building showed that it comprised a rectangular structure orientated north to south with wings projecting to the west at each end. This is a style common to the Roman period and is known as a winged corridor villa. The building measures 30m north to south and is 17m wide. The excavations revealed substantial stone wall footings made from river cobbles and field stones. The footings were found to be up to 1.1m wide and survive up to 1m below the surviving top of the walls. Where revealed, the internal floor surfaces were made of beaten earth. The western building was also partially excavated and was found to be a similar sized winged corridor building orientated east to west with the wings on the southern side. The surviving parts of the walls revealed by the excavations were built of stone. It is suggested by the excavator that the north and south sides were not continuous wall lines but took the form of aisles. There is evidence that this building went through a number of phases of construction including the addition of rounded apses to the north aisle. Significant amounts of roof tile, brick and painted wall plaster were also uncovered during the excavation of this building.

A third complex of buildings was also revealed through excavation in the south western corner of the enclosure. These structures are not visible on aerial photographs but their existence was indicated by significant concentrations of pottery, glass and slag found in the area during field walking. The excavation was limited in extent but revealed the presence of wall footings for a building measuring 20m in length. The exact size and nature of this building is not yet fully understood. Adjacent to this wall there was a well, lined with sandstone blocks, which was 0.75m in diameter and 4.5m deep. The top of the well was capped with pieces of red sandstone but prior to that it appears to have been used as rubbish pit as it contained amounts of debris including Roman pottery, animal bone and fragments of roof tiles. The pottery recovered from the site ranges from native British wares of the local Iron Age tradition through to fourth century Roman material. Analysis of the bones found during excavation suggests that the settlement operated a mixed farming regime with cattle also being used as beasts of burden.

In the western part of the monument there is a series of three ditches, which appear to form the eastern end of an earlier ditched enclosure. It is thought that these ditches extended further to the west, however the extent and nature of survival of these is currently unknown. The extent of this earlier ditched enclosure within the monument measures approximately 120m north to south by 90m east to west. Apart from the western building, the currently known Roman remains lie within this enclosed area. A section was dug through one of these ditches adjacent to the western building and it was found to be 7m wide and up to 2.5m deep. The ditch contained significant amounts of Roman period domestic rubbish and building debris, which suggests that this ditch remained open and in use during the Roman period. From the study of similar sites elsewhere in the north of England, it is suggested that these enclosure ditches were associated with a Late Iron Age settlement which was adapted and further developed during the Roman period with the construction of more substantial rectangular buildings, at least one being outside the earlier ditched enclosure. The geophysical survey revealed further features below the ground elsewhere in the monument, which were not archaeologically investigated. These include a ditch extending east to west across the northern third of the monument just to the north of the winged corridor building. This runs from the eastern to western boundaries of the settlement enclosure and is interpreted as a leat carrying water across the settlement. Further remains revealed include a polygonal feature to the south west of the western building and a possible road crossing the settlement from east to west. The function of the polygonal feature is currently unknown.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 35467

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Brown, J, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Soc Roman Antiquities Section Bulletin' in Romano British Villa Complex, (1999), 19-27
Brown, J, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Soc Roman Antiquities Section Bulletin' in Romano British Villa Complex, (1999), 19-27
Stobbs, G, 'Teesside Archaeological Society Bulletin' in The Roman Villa Complex at Chapel House Farm Dalton on Tees, , Vol. No. 6, (2001), 15-25
Vyner B, (1990)

End of official listing