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Medieval settlement remains at Woodford

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Medieval settlement remains at Woodford

List entry Number: 1003633

Location

The site is to the south of Rectory Lane, immediately west of the south end of Church Street. NGR centred on SP9678376607.

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: East Northamptonshire

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Woodford

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-Feb-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 22-May-2014

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM - OCN

UID: NN 189

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

The earthwork and buried remains of part of the medieval village of Woodford, including boundary banks, house platforms and an unidentified circular feature; the date of abandonment is not known.

Reasons for Designation

The medieval settlement site at Woodford is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: for the good survival of earthworks depicting the form and plan of the settlement; * Potential: for stratified archaeological deposits that will retain considerable potential to increase our understanding of the physical characteristics of the buildings and settlement. Material evidence of finds, including, in this low lying location, faunal and botanical evidence, has the potential to increase our knowledge and understanding of the social and economic functioning of the settlement within the wider medieval landscape, and the reasons for the abandonment of the site, and the shift of settlement to the north; * Documentation: for good archaeological documentation in the form of survey of the site, as well as manorial records and other documentary sources relating to the village of Woodford as a whole; * Group value: for its close proximity to other related contemporary designated monuments, particularly the site of the scheduled Manor House and gardens to the north-east (NHLE 1003634); * Diversity: for the range and complexity of features such as building platforms, crofts and boundary banks, which, taken as a whole, provide a clear plan of the settlement and will retain significant stratified deposits containing evidence of the settlement's occupation and ultimate abandonment.

History

The village, comprising a small group of houses (tofts), gardens (crofts), yards, streets, paddocks, a manor and a church, sometimes a green, occupied by a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in much of lowland medieval England, much as it is today. The Introduction to Heritage Assets on Medieval Settlements (English Heritage, May 2011) explains that most villages were established in the C9 and C10, and exhibit a variety of plan-forms, from the highly irregular at one extreme to planned villages with tofts and crofts running back from a main road, often linked with a back lane around the rear of the crofts, and typically having a church and manor house in larger compartments at the end of the village. In recognising the great regional diversity of medieval rural settlements in England, Roberts and Wrathmell (2003) divided the country into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements; these were further divided into sub-Provinces. The Northamptonshire settlements lie in the East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised in the medieval period by large numbers of nucleated settlements. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval, others may represent much older farming landscapes.

Although many villages and hamlets continue to be occupied to the present day, some 2,000 nationally were abandoned in the medieval and post-medieval periods and others have shrunken. In the second half of the C20, research focussed on when and why desertion and shrinkage occurred. Current orthodoxy sees settlements of all periods as fluid entities, being created and disappearing, expanding and contracting and sometimes shifting often over a long period of time. Abandonment may have occurred as early as the C11 or continued into the C20, although it seems to have peaked during the C14 and C15. In the East Midlands sub-Province, Roberts and Wrathmell identified that the sites of many settlements, most of which were first documented in Domesday Book of 1086, are still occupied by modern villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by earthwork remains. Research into Northamptonshire medieval villages highlights two prevalent causes of settlement change, namely the shift from arable farming to sheep pasture in the C15 and C16 (requiring larger tracts of land to be made available for grazing), and the enclosure of open fields from the late C16 through to the mid C19 for emparkment or agricultural improvement. Despite the commonly held view that plague caused the abandonment of many villages, the documentary evidence available confirms only one such case in Northamptonshire, the former settlement of Hale, in Apethorpe. The village was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, comprising a small group of houses (known as tofts which may include house platforms surviving as earthworks), gardens (crofts or closes which are typically defined by banks and ditches), yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture. The Introduction to Heritage Assets on Medieval Settlements (English Heritage, May 2011) explains that most villages were established in the C9 and C10, but modified following the Norman invasion to have planned layouts comprising tofts and crofts running back from a main road, often linked with a back lane around the rear of the crofts, and typically having a church and manor house in larger compartments at the end of the village. In recognising the great regional diversity of medieval rural settlements in England, Roberts and Wrathmell (2003) divided the country into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements; these were further divided into sub-Provinces. The Northamptonshire settlements lie in the East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised in the medieval period by large numbers of nucleated settlements. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval, others may represent much older farming landscapes.

Although many villages continue to be occupied to the present day, some 2000 nationally were abandoned in the medieval and post-medieval periods and others have shrunken. In the second half of the C20, research focussed on when and why this occurred. Current orthodoxy sees settlements of all periods as fluid entities, being created and disappearing, expanding and contracting and sometimes shifting often over a long period of time. Abandonment may have occurred as early as the C11 or continued into the C20, although it seems to have peaked during the C14 and C15. In the East Midlands sub-Province, Roberts and Wrathmell identified that the sites of many settlements, most of which were first documented in Domesday Book of 1086, are still occupied by modern villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by earthwork remains. Research into Northamptonshire medieval villages highlights two prevalent causes of settlement change namely the shift from arable farming to sheep pasture in the C15 and C16 (requiring larger tracts of land to be made available for grazing) and the enclosure of open fields from the late C16 through to the mid C19 for emparkment or agricultural improvement. Despite the commonly held view that plague caused the abandonment of many villages, the documentary evidence available confirms only one such case in Northamptonshire, the former settlement of Hale in Apethorpe.

The village of Woodford is sited on limestone, on a slight rise of land above the River Nene, the earlier part of the village extending down the slope from The Green, which lies at the centre of the village. A map of 1731 shows that the crofts to the south of the village, within the scheduled area, had already been abandoned by this date, but in the mid-C19 the village expanded to the north of The Green in response to the opening of local iron ore quarries. Abandonment may have been due to either a decline in population, or it may represent a shift from low lying land to higher ground. The parish was inclosed by private Act of Parliament in 1768.

The surviving earthworks were recorded by the Royal Commission of Historic Monuments of England (1975), and these are also represented on the images compiled by the National Mapping Programme from aerial photographs. Aerial photographs taken in 2013 (English Heritage, October 2013) provide the most recent overview.

The earthworks were first scheduled in February 1978 as 'Portion of deserted medieval village of Woodford', NN189.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The scheduled area includes the earthwork and buried archaeological remains of part of the medieval village of Woodford.

DESCRIPTION The area occupies the east side of two fields to the south of the village, both of which are under pasture, and includes a number of abandoned tofts and crofts, sited towards the bottom of a slope that falls from the north-west to the south-east. Evidence of occupation survives as earthworks, with house platforms on the east and south sides of a rectangle, defined on the east by the existing lane, sunk below the ground level of the field, and on the north, west and south by a linear bank. To the west, this is most evident towards the north end of the field, where it stands under 1m high, running south for a distance of about 70m-80m. Also towards the north end, bordering the lane to the east, the Royal Commission report identifies four hollows, described as probable house platforms; further platforms lie to the south, stepped into the hillside. To the west of these is a circular bank about 0.5m high, enclosing an area about 10m-12m in diameter within which is a low mound.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The scheduled area includes the settlement remains of an abandoned part of the medieval village of Woodford, including house platforms and boundary banks. The area is roughly rectangular, bounded to the north-west by the properties facing onto Rectory Lane, and to the south-east by the road, the south end of Church Street. The length of this boundary is about 151m; that to the north-east, about 91m; to the north-west, about 152m; and to the south-west, about 110m.

EXCLUSIONS All fence and gate posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

There is considerable potential for undesignated heritage assets to survive within those parts of present day Woodford occupied in the medieval period. These may take the form of standing structures or buried deposits but are considered to be most appropriately managed through the National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012) and are not therefore included in the scheduled area.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Allison, K J, Beresford, M W, Hurst, J G, The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire, (1966)
Astill, G, Grant, A, The Countryside of Medieval England, (1988)
Aston, M, Austin, D, Dyer, C(eds), The Rural Settlements of Medieval England: Studies dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, (1989)
Christie, N, Stamper, P (eds), Medieval Rural Settlement: Britain and Ireland AD 800-1600, (2012)
Dyer, C, Jones, R, Deserted Villages Revisited, (2010)
Hall, D, Turning the Plough. Midland Open Fields;landscape character and proposals for management, (2001)
Hall, D, The Open Fields of Northamptonshire, (1995)
Lewis, C, Mitchell-Fox, P, Dyer, C , Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England, (1997)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Northamptonshire: Volume III, (1930)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Northamptonshire: Volume III, (1930)
Partida, T, Hall, D, Foard, G, An Atlas of Northamptonshire The Medieval and Early-Modern Landscape, (2013)
Roberts, B K, Wrathmell, S, An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England, (2003)
Williamson, T., Partida, T, Champion. The Making and Unmaking of the English Midland Landscape, (2013)
Other
Northamptonshire Historic Environment Record (HER),
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of N, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire, (1975)

National Grid Reference: SP9678276611

Map

Map
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End of official listing