Land Adjacent to Wetheral Playing Fields, Wetheral

Land Adjacent to Wetheral Playing Fields, Wetheral, Cumbria: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment and Geophysical Survey

As part of pre-planning consultation for a proposed residential development on land adjacent to the playing fields, Wetheral, Cumbria, Greenlane Archaeology was commissioned to carry out a desk-based assessment and geophysical survey of the site. The site is situated on the south side of the village of Wetheral, which is historically dominated by the medieval Priory. The priory of Wetheral is known to have been established c1100, but Wetheral is seemingly recorded at an earlier date as being on the boundary of the diocese of Hexham, which did not exist after the 9th century, and there are apparently early references to a group of artificial caves known as Constantine’s Cells and a holy well dedicated to St Cuthbert, which might also indicate an important early medieval presence in the area. A group of Roman inscriptions near these caves indicate a Roman, probably military, presence in the area, which is in the hinterland of Hadrian’s Wall and the important Roman city of Carlisle. The village of Wetheral is at least medieval in origin, although a fragment of Anglian cross was found in the churchyard. It is likely that the village saw relatively little development until the post-medieval period, following the Dissolution and after the coming of the Newcastle-Carlisle railway.

The site visit identified few constraints to further archaeological work and no obvious areas of disturbance within the site area. It was also apparent that a former field boundary, shown to cross the site on the early maps, was preserved as an earthwork across part of the site. The geophysical survey revealed large areas of magnetic disturbance around the edges of the site, probably resulting from modern activity, and areas of ridge and furrow across much of the site. It also clearly showed up the same earthwork feature as a linear anomaly. In addition, a further linear feature was present to the south of the extant earthwork, and another orientated east/west to the east, and a number of smaller anomalies were present across almost the entire site.

The full report is available on the Archaeology Data Service website: