Great Tosson : Romano-British Period and After (AD 70-500)
Towards the end of the first millennium BC, pollen evidence suggests that all remaining upland forest had been cleared, and small-enclosed settlements or homesteads were established in increasing numbers on slopes and high moorland. Just outside the study area, the rectangular enclosure near Cockpit Well (NSMR 2816, NU 031000) is a typical example of this type of settlement which is believed to be Romano-British though a Late Iron Age date is also possible.
This part of Northumberland lay beyond the Roman frontier for much of the period of occupation, and the influence of Roman culture is likely to have been slight and very indirect (Higham 1986, 224-6). Small-enclosed homesteads such as these are likely to have continued in use for several centuries.
Though evidence for the early medieval period is scant, in many parts of Northumberland isolated upland settlements may have been gradually replaced by the lower lying hamlets and villages in existence today, perhaps from the eighth or ninth centuries onwards. Though it is very difficult to provide any convincing evidence for continuity of occupation from the prehistoric period through to the modern day, it is interesting to note that Tosson Burgh hillfort appears to control a roughly oval territory which seems to encompass Great Tosson itself. It is therefore possible that the modern village occupies a more ancient site.
Picture : Earthworks near Tossan Hill Fort