Deserted medieval village of North Thorne.
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.
The deserted medieval village of North Thorne survives well and will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, development, building techniques, agricultural practices and abandonment as well as its general landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 November 2015. 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 North Thorne situated on a gentle west facing slope above the valley of a tributary to the River Yeo. The village survives as a series of earthworks and buried layers, deposits and structures. There are approximately nine rectangular house platforms, intersecting hollow ways and paddocks. In the western corner is a pound-like structure and there is also a spring. Partial excavations in 1959 uncovered a long house built of cob on stone footings with a cob dividing wall set on bedrock. There were also the remains of a doorway and hearth. Further excavations in 1960 located a ‘major building’ constructed in the same way as the first but this seemed to have the remains of burnt thatch on the floor and contained both glazed and unglazed 13th to 14th century pottery. The village was probably abandoned during the 14th century. There is no specific documentary evidence relating to North Thorne except a mention on the 1840 tithe map. It is thought to have been one of the three unnamed estates annexed to the Manor of Bratons shortly after the Norman Conquest.
The extent of the hollow ways and ridge and furrow in the associated fields immediately surrounding the village are clearly shown on aerial photographs, but all of these features are not included in the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.