Pegswood Moor, Morpeth (free download)

A Later Iron Age and Romano-British Farmstead Settlement

Jennifer Proctor, 2009.

PCA Monograph 11

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ISBN 978-0956305404


Lying 8km inland on the Northumberland Coastal Plain Pegswood Moor seems to have attracted its first permanent settlers around the 4th century BC. Initially a small and apparently isolated farmstead, by the 2nd century BC this had expanded into an organized enclosed settlement with areas set aside for stock-keeping, habitation, manufacturing and processing activities, including pottery production. Evidence suggests a mixed agricultural economy, whilst a droveway leading towards the coast and field systems extending away from the focus of habitation point to extensive exploitation of the wider landscape.

Towards the end of the 1st century AD there was a fundamental change in the management of this landscape, with new boundaries established on different alignments. Most striking was the construction of a substantial timber enclosure built through the line of several roundhouse dwellings – a seemingly deliberate and pointed statement. Tantalizingly, no associated focus of habitation was found within the area of excavation and, as with the majority of other excavated settlements in the area, evidence for occupation after the 2nd century was absent. The impetus for this sudden yet short-lived change can only be speculated on – but the arrival of vast numbers of Roman troops in the region with all their attendant requirements must surely be in part responsible.

Little artefactual evidence to indicate the influence of Rome was recovered. However, the site did produce one of the largest assemblages of native tradition pottery from the region, along with
fragments of briquetage suggesting connections with the coast. The presence of whole quernstones, quern rubbers and mortars emphasises the importance of crop processing to this community – that these were found whole in boundary features suggests they held a symbolic significance.

As this publication shows, the extensive archaeological investigations at Pegswood Moor have contributed greatly to our developing understanding of settlement patterns in the Northumberland
Coastal Plain during the Later Iron Age.

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