Coatham Mundeville medieval village, fishpond and areas of rig and furrow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016109

Date first listed: 26-Mar-1997


Ordnance survey map of Coatham Mundeville medieval village, fishpond and areas of rig and furrow
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Great Aycliffe

District: Darlington (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Coatham Mundeville

National Grid Reference: NZ 28543 20612, NZ 28589 20431


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Humber-Tees sub-Province of the Central Province which comprises a great fertile lowland, with many local variations caused by slight differences in terrain, but generally dominated by market towns, villages and hamlets. The dispersed farmsteads between these are mainly of post-medieval date, created by the movement out of villages and on to newly consolidated holdings following enclosure. Some, however, are more ancient dispersals, the result of manors, granges and other farmsteads being moved out of villages in the Middle Ages; others have become isolated by the process of village depopulation, which has had a substantial impact in the sub-Province. The Tees Valley local region is a rich agricultural lowland, with varied soils on glacial and alluvial deposits once supporting dense concentrations of market towns and villages. Depopulation has thinned the numbers of villages, while enclosure in the 17th and 18th centuries has brought scatters of isolated farmsteads to landscapes once dominated by great expanses of open, communally organised townfields.

A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a narrow valley. Groups of up to 12 ponds variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster and joined by leats have been recorded. The ponds may be of the same size or of several different sizes with each pond being stocked with different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to function, with large ponds thought to have had a storage capability whilst smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream, a series of sluices set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented flooding. Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and islands possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas, are also recorded. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society with monastic institutions and royal residences often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period although some were reused as ornamental features in 19th and early 20th century landscape parks or gardens, or as watercress beds. Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and cleared. Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams where other sources of fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most fishponds were located close to villages, manors or monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite being relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.

The shrunken remains of the medieval village of Coatham Mundeville are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The village is a good example of its type and taken together with the remains of the open field system will add greatly to our knowledge of medieval settlement in the region.


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


The monument includes the shrunken remains of the medieval village of Coatham Mundeville, situated on the East Durham Plateau. The earliest known reference to the settlement is contained in a document of AD 1200 in which it is referred to as `Cotum super Scryne'. The Amundeville family held the manor from an early time until Thomas Amundeville sold it to Galfrid Russell. The medieval plan of the village is a type well known in County Durham in which two parallel lines of houses face onto a broad rectangular village green with narrow crofts or garden areas to the rear. Coatham Mundeville has been occupied down to the present day and its basic medieval plan has been retained with some of the original plots currently occupied by buildings. This type of village in northern England is thought to have been a result of intentional planning by the Normans attempting to exert control over a rebellious region during the 11th and 12th centuries. The shrunken remains of the village are visible as a series of earthworks situated to the north, south and west of the present village. The south row of the village has been largely depopulated, and at its western end the former line of the street is visible as a broad linear earthen bank containing the remains of several rectangular house platforms. Immediately to the rear there are the earthwork remains of several elongated crofts, orientated north to south. They are defined by prominent earthen banks 3m wide and 0.6m high. The line of the street continues through the fields immediately east of Glebe Farm; to its south an area of rig and furrow cultivation extends down to the stream. The north row of the medieval village is still largely occupied except at the western end. Here, it is visible as a prominent linear scarp and it also survives as a slight earthwork in the southern part of the field immediately north east of Coatham Hall Farm. The earthworks on the north side of the village are less pronounced than those on the south and hence no house platforms are visible, although they are thought to survive immediately to the rear of the street front. The two rows of houses face onto a broad rectangular village green, now partly occupied by Brafferton Lane. The southern part of the green is visible as a slightly concave open space containing the remains of earthen banks and hollows. With the exception of the extreme western end, however, its northern part has suffered from later village encroachment. Immediately north and east of Coatham Farm there is a large area of ridge and furrow cultivation orientated north to south. At its northern end there are the remains of an elongated pond. This is interpreted as a fishpond 34m long by 10m wide and up to 1.6m deep, with a prominent earthen bank 6m wide flanking it to the north. A ditch up to 1m deep flanks the pond to the west and this continues north for 66m, accompanied for part of its course by a slight earthen bank. This ditch is interpreted as a leat which fed water into the pond at its northern end. Immediately to the east of the first pond, a similar elongated depression is thought to be the remains of a second pond, although the exact relationship between this depression and the surrounding rig and furrow cannot be established. Some 50m south of these ponds a large irregular depression may be the modified remains of another water related feature. Further ridge and furrow is visible at the extreme eastern end of the village which at its southern end appears to overlie earlier village earthworks. A number of features within the area are excluded from the scheduling; these are all buildings associated with Glebe Farm including the barn and small stone shed at the extreme western side of the monument, as well as all fences, walls and hedges, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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: 28551

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fordyce, W, History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume I, (1857), 522
Roberts, B K R, 'Geographia Polonica' in The Regulated Village in Northern England, , Vol. 38, (1978), 246-52
1487 & DMV Survey of Darlington, (1994)
DSMR 1487,

End of official listing