Medieval earthworks at Balmer
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002241
Date first listed: 28-Apr-1975
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: East Sussex
District: Lewes (District Authority)
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: TQ 35877 10140
Balmer deserted medieval village, 250m north of Balmer Farm
Reasons for Designation
The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.
Despite disturbance by agricultural activity in the past, Balmer deserted medieval village survives well. It will contain below-ground archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction, use and occupation of the site and to the surrounding landscape at the time it was constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes the deserted medieval village of Balmer, surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on a ridge of chalk downland, NNE of Falmer on the South Downs. The earthworks include a central holloway or sunken trackway, dew pond and several house platforms. These are visible as a series of mounds and depressions north of Balmer Farm. The village of Balmer is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. The date it was abandoned is not known. The village chapel was demolished in 1550.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby Iron Age and Romano-British field system with associated settlements, burial ground and trackway are scheduled, but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ES 423
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
NMR TQ31SE39. PastScape 402826,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing