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
primarily devoted to farming, 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 as well as acting as the focus
of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish.
Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously
down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now
occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually
throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during
the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The
reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining
economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large
parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and
contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval
villages are recorded nationally. 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 shrunken medieval village and associated field system on Flagstaff Hill
survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental information
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was formed. The strip
lynchets are amongst the best examples surviving in the area. The monument is
believed to overlie an earlier settlement.
The monument includes the deserted part of a shrunken medieval village known
as Christon, and part of its associated field system surviving as earthworks
and situated on the ridge and south-facing slope of Flagstaff Hill overlooking
the Lox Yeo valley. That part of the village which has remained occupied lies
immediately to the south of the monument.
The deserted area of the settlement survives as an area of well-defined
earthworks representing building platforms and terraces. These are arranged
on an east-west alignment either side of a hollow way and cover an area of
2.5ha. The earthworks survive to a maximum height of 0.5m. Pottery
sherds, dating to the 12th and 14th centuries, have been recovered from this
area of the monument, confirming the medieval date of the structures. There
have also been finds of Roman and Saxon pottery on the hill suggesting that
the area was occupied prior to the medieval period.
The field system survives in the form of earthwork remains to the north,
north-east and west of the settlement. To the north-east lies a field
containing four well-preserved strip lynchets which represent agricultural
terraces and survive to 1.2m high, c.10m wide and 350m long. The earthworks
to the north and west of the settlement represent additional fields and
enclosures contemporary with the medieval occupation of the site.
All fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.