Medieval settlement remains north of Kenwick Farm house

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009986

Date first listed: 21-Dec-1994

Map

Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement remains north of Kenwick Farm house
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Tilney All Saints

National Grid Reference: TF 56958 19043

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The settlement, comprising a small group of houses with gardens, yards, streets and 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. Such settlements provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. The development of medieval settlements in the Fens and on the Fen edge reflected the distinctive but variable character of the geography and economy of the region. During the medieval period, particularly in the 13th century, settlement in the Marshland area of the Fens in north west Norfolk expanded greatly as large tracts of the siltlands were reclaimed. By the 14th century, the district, with the neighbouring town of Kings Lynn, was assessed as one of the 20 most prosperous in England. The medieval settlement landscape of Marshland was characterised in the north and west by a network of large and small greens, linked by trackways. These greens are thought to have been established in the later Saxon period, before the Conquest, as areas of common land associated with occupation on nearby roddons (extinct waterways) and other areas of raised ground. They became a focus of settlement themselves in the 12th and 13th centuries, as the lands surrounding them were reclaimed and enclosed. Elsewhere in the area, the pattern of settlement developed in linear fashion, along either side of the droves which were created to give access to the grazing lands of the freshwater fen to the south. The sites of these settlements have, for the most part, been occupied continuously up to the present day, and where they are not obscured by later occupation, the medieval remains have generally been disturbed by later agriculture. Identifiable, upstanding earthwork remains of medieval houses and associated enclosures are very rare in the Fenland. All will retain valuable information about the nature of medieval settlement and the farming economy of this part of the Fens, and are therefore considered to merit protection.

The settlement earthworks north of Kenwick Farm house survive well and are identifiable as remains of one of the few medieval settlements in Marshland which has decreased significantly in size since the 14th century. The hollow way, ditched enclosures and house plots will contain important archaeological information concerning the arrangement and function of the settlement, and evidence of an earlier land surface will be preserved beneath the raised platforms. The relationship of the earthworks to the adjacent medieval green, whose outline is still discernible in the modern field boundaries, gives the monument additional interest.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details



The monument, which is located in a paddock on the south side of the modern A17 and to the north of Kenwick Farm house, includes a hollow way with associated ditched enclosures, identified as crofts and tofts of a medieval settlement bordering the north side of Mear Green. The site lies on silts which post-date the Roman period.

The hollow way runs east-west and is visible as a pronounced linear depression approximately 8m wide and 0.75m deep in the ground surface. Immediately adjoining this to the south are at least two rectangular enclosures, measuring approximately 40m and 50m in width respectively and defined on their east and west sides by three ditches which run southwards from the hollow way. The ditches have become largely infilled, but they survive as buried features, and are visible as slighter hollows measuring 4m-7m in width and approximately 0.3m deep. A second hollow way, approximately 9m wide and 0.7m deep, runs north-south to meet the eastern end of the first. South east of this junction is another rectilinear enclosure defined by ditches and hollow ways between 4m and 9m wide, and having maximum internal dimensions of approximately 55m north east - south west by 50m north west - south east. A smaller enclosure at the southern end of this measures 24m north east - south west by 38m north west - south east internally and contains two low platforms, raised approximately 0.3m above the surrounding surface, which have been identified as the sites of buildings. Bordering the ditch on the west side of these last two enclosures is a slight external bank, broadening at its southern end into another low platform.

At the western end of the site, immediately beyond the end of the east-west hollow way, are several narrow ditches approximately 3m wide, defining parts of two additional rectilinear enclosures.

Mear Green, on the south side of the site, was an area of common land of approximately 30ha and was a focus of settlement in the medieval period, particularly during the 13th and 14th centuries.

All boundary fences and field gates are excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 20823

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Leah, M, Mathews, M, Fenland Evaluation Project: Norfolk, (1990)
Silverster, R J, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 3: Norfolk Survey, Marshland and Nar Valley, , Vol. 45, (), 49 - 52

End of official listing