Medieval manorial earthworks in Shingleton Wood, 240m NNW of Shingleton Farm
Reasons for Designation
Manorial centres were important foci of medieval rural life. They served as prestigious aristocratic or seigniorial residences, the importance of their inhabitants being reflected in the quality and elaboration of their buildings. Local agricultural and village life was normally closely regulated by the Lord of the manor, and hence the inhabitants of these sites had a controlling interest in many aspects of medieval life. Manorial sites could take on many forms. In many areas of the country the buildings were located within a moat, the latter being intended to further impress the status of the site on the wider population. Other manors were not moated their status being indicated largely by the quality of their buildings. This latter group of manorial centres are the most difficult to identify today because the sites were not enclosed by major earthwork features, such as a moat, which may survive well, and the original buildings often exhibited a fairly unplanned layout which could extend over a large area. Continued use of the site has also in many instances led to destruction of medieval remains. Hence examples of medieval manorial centres of this type which can be positively identified and demonstrated to have extensive surviving archaeological remains are relatively rare.
The medieval manorial earthworks in Shingleton Wood survive well and are largely undisturbed by modern activity or development. They will contain foundations of a manor house, associated chapel and other agricultural buildings. As such the earthworks retain potential for further archaeological investigation. The site is well recorded in documentary sources and will provide a valuable insight into the medieval landscape in this part of Kent. It will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the manorial earthworks and the landscape in which they were constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 19 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 earthworks and buried remains of a medieval manor situated on a south-east facing slope of a valley, just over 3km south-west of Eastry. The manorial complex is a broadly rectangular area of earthworks orientated NNE to SSW.
The complex is delineated by a substantial ditch, accompanied by an internal bank in places, on the western, southern and eastern sides. To the north it is delineated by a bank near to a modern field boundary. This forms an area approximately 200m long by about 175m wide at the south end, narrowing to about 140m wide to the north. Near the centre of the southern half of the earthwork complex is a square building platform, about 35m by 40m, defined by a ditch to the south and west, and a scarp to the north and east. This is considered to be the site of a medieval manor house, the foundations of which will survive as buried remains. Surface finds of 13th or 14th century pottery have been noted in this area.
Immediately to the north-east is a deep shaft, thought to be a well. In the southern corner of the earthwork complex, adjacent to the building platform, is a rectangular area, about 40m long by 30m wide, defined by earthwork ditches and bank boundaries. Within this area, low flint rubble wall foundations indicate a building about 11m long by 6m wide, orientated east-west. A ruined chapel of similar dimensions was recorded at this location in 1784. Surface finds of dressed flints, peg tiles and what is thought to be 12th or 13th century mortar have also been noted. To the north of the manor house platform is a circular mound with a circular hole in the middle, which has been suggested to be the buried remains of an animal powered mill, windmill or dovecote. On the east side of the earthwork complex are two depressions, which are thought to be medieval ponds. In the northern part of the complex is a possible prehistoric field lynchet, which runs north-south and appears to underlie the other earthworks, the continuation of its scarp possibly defining the eastern side of the building platform. The rest of the complex is divided into irregular rectangular sections by a number of banks, ditches and hollow ways, which are likely to include the remains of landscape management, such as boundaries, associated with the medieval manor house.
The site is thought to be the lost manor of Shingleton documented by Edward Hasted in his ‘History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent’ of 1800. A manor is first recorded at Shingleton in the 13th century and was apparently owned by Sir William de Scrinkling during the reign of Edward I (1239-1307). Between about 1346 and 1350 it was appropriated by the neighbouring manor of Knowlton. This corresponds closely with the arrival of the Black Death and it is possible that the manor and its inhabitants were affected by the plague. In 1361, a court was apparently held at Shingleton Manor, indicating that its status was still significant at this time. The manorial complex included a chapel. This was a chapel of ease to the mother church of Eastry. It is recorded in 1367 requiring a chaplain and is thought to have fallen into ruin sometime before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After the 14th century Shingleton appears to only be referred to as the land at Shingleton; the title of manor having been dropped, suggesting a permanent decline in the status of the settlement.
An analytical survey of the manorial earthworks was carried out on the site in 2007.