Medieval farmstead and irregular open field system at High Burntoft Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015207.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 25-Nov-2020 at 22:47:22.


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

Hartlepool (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NZ 44576 27906

Reasons for Designation

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a characteristic feature of the medieval rural landscape. They occur throughout the country, the intensity of their distribution determined by local topography and the nature of the agricultural system prevalent within the region. In some areas of dispersed settlement they were the predominant settlement form; elsewhere they existed alongside, or were components of, more nucleated settlement patterns. The sites of many farmsteads have been occupied down to the present day but others were abandoned as a result of, for example, declining economic viability, enclosure or emparkment, or epidemics like the Black Death. In the northern border areas, recurring cross-border raids and military activities also disrupted agricultural life and led to abandonments. Farmsteads are a common and long-lived monument type; the archaeological deposits on those which were abandoned are often well-preserved and provide important information on regional and national settlement patterns and farming economies, and on changes in these through time.

Medieval rural settlement in England is marked by considerable diversity in both form and size. Preserving the archaeology of such diversity is a matter of national importance. The broad pattern of diversity in England can be divided into three main provinces which can in turn be divided into sub- provinces and local regions.

The medieval settlement and field system at High Burntoft is well preserved and retains significant archaeological remains. Dispersed settlements are unusual in this region where the characteristic settlement pattern comprises large nucleated villages. Therefore this monument will add to our understanding of the use and development of the medieval agricultural landscape in this area of England.


The monument includes the remains of a farmstead of medieval date and an associated field system, situated on the eastern side of the North Burn valley. It is thought that more than one phase of occupation is represented by these remains. The core of the monument is visible as a square enclosure 140m across divided into four unequal parts by earthen banks and hollow ways. The south western part of this enclosure is visible as a raised platform 60m square and is considered to represent the remains of an original small settlement, now partly occupied by a ruined farm. The northern half of the square enclosure contains two small enclosures or crofts, each of which measure on average 75m by 65m, separated by a hollow way 9m wide which runs from the site of the farmstead northwards into the surrounding fields. The crofts have been used as cultivated plots and the prominent remains of ridge and furrow cultivation on average 5m wide and standing 0.3m high is visible within them. Within the north eastern croft are the remains of four sub-rectangular or elongated hollows 20m long and varying between 10m-15m wide; these features are interpreted as fishponds, a common feature of medieval settlements. To the east of these crofts, aerial photographs have revealed the existence of slight earthworks representing the remains of a line of additional crofts. The crofts in this area were subsequently abandoned and later ridge and furrow is visible running across them indicating that the area was reused as a cultivated field. A prominent hollow way up to 15m wide runs from the eastern side of the monument across this field of ridge and furrow in a northerly direction; this feature is clearly later in date.

Beyond the immediate environs of the farmstead and associated crofts, extensive areas of well preserved ridge and furrow, contained within smaller parcels called furlongs, form a coherent block of the field system associated with the settlement. The furlongs, which are orientated east to west and north to south, are defined by earthen banks and lynchets on average 3m wide which form furlong boundaries and headlands. The ridge and furrow which is contained within them measures on average 0.6m high and 6m wide.

The placename Burntoft is mentioned in the Boldon Book of 1183 as `Bruntoft' and the origin of the name toft is thought to be Old Norse indicating the site of a building.

All gates and gateposts, wood and wire fences and stone walls which cross or are contained within the area of the scheduling as well as all of the modern farm buildings are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 15/01/2015

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


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Archaeological Services, Durham University, Archaeological Survey and Evaluation at Annigate, Wynyard, (1996), 17&11

Archaeological Services Durham University, (1996)
Cleveland Archaeology Services, 1994/11,
NZ 42 NE 00,
Title: Earthwork Survey of High Burntoft Source Date: 1996 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:500


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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].