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Medieval settlement and associated ridge and furrow south-west of Eastrop Farm

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Medieval settlement and associated ridge and furrow south-west of Eastrop Farm

List entry Number: 1016310


Eastrop, Highworth, Swindon. The medieval remains lie in four separate areas of protection to either side of Farringdon Road: centred on SU2074692289, SU2075292593, SU2105292726 and SU2117692534.

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Swindon

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Highworth

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 10-Oct-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Apr-2015

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28960

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

The earthwork and buried remains of a medieval settlement at Eastrop.

Reasons for Designation

The medieval settlement at Eastrop, and an area of associated ridge and furrow cultivation, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: as a well-preserved medieval village with a diverse range of components surviving as earthworks and buried remains; * Potential: for the stratified archaeological deposits which will increase our understanding of the character and occupation of the settlement. Buried artefacts will also have the potential to increase our knowledge and understanding of the site’s social and economic functioning within the wider medieval landscape; * Group value: the ridge and furrow to the south represents an essential component of the settlement’s agrarian economy and their functional inter-relationship is therefore clear.


Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great diversity in form, size and type. They typically comprise a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture. Our Introduction to Heritage Assets on Medieval Settlements (May 2011) explains that most villages were established in the C9 and C10, but modified following the Norman invasion to have planned layouts comprising tofts and crofts running back from a main road, often linked with a back lane around the rear of the crofts, and typically having a church and manor house in larger compartments at the end of the village. Although many villages continue to be occupied to the present day, some 2000 nationally were abandoned in the medieval and post-medieval periods and others have shrunken. Abandonment may have occurred as early as the C11 or continued into the C20, although it seems to have peaked during the C14 and C15. In recognising the great regional diversity of medieval rural settlements in England, Roberts and Wrathmell (2003) divided the country 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.

The medieval settlement to the south-west of Eastrop Farm is located within the Cotswold Scarp and Vales sub-Province of the Central Province, a scarp and vale landscape extending south-eastwards from the clays and alluvium of the Severn Plain, over the limestones of the Cotswolds to the Oxford Clay Vale. Villages and hamlets concentrate thickly in the Severn Valley and the Vale of Pewsey, but are only moderately dense elsewhere. They are most thinly scattered on the higher ridge of the north-east Cotswolds, an area where in 1851 there were low populations and frequent deserted villages. Overall, there are very low concentrations of dispersed farmsteads, the only exceptions being the Vale of Pewsey and the Upper Avon and Thames watershed. Highworth is the highest town in Wiltshire. It appears to have seen almost continuous occupation for 4000 years. Archaeological evidence of Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman and Romano British remains have been found on and around its hill top. The prefix high, denoting its prominent hilltop position first appearing in the thirteenth century when the town plan was laid out by charter of Edward II. During the Anglo Saxon period the Hundred of Worth was established. Worth was the name used for the area containing not only Highworth, but also Sevenhampton, South Marston, Hampton, Eastrop, and Westrop, all of which were in the parish of Highworth until the C19 century. By the eleventh century a minster church had been established in Highworth. Mention of a priest there is made in the Domesday survey of 1086: ‘Ralph the priest holds the church of Worde and to it belong 3 hides which did not pay geld in the time of King Edward. Land for 2 ploughs. These the priest has, with 6 bordars; meadow, 10 acres. Value 100s.’ This is the estate represented in the hundred by the ‘tithing of the parson of Worth’. The suffixes of Eastrop and Westrop, both in the Middle Ages tithings and manors, probably derive from the Old English ‘thorp’ meaning a village or hamlet. In the early glosses thorp was used as an alternative to the Old English thingstow or ‘place of assembly’ and again suggests that originally Highworth was an ancient meeting place, with Eastrop and Westrop east and west of it. Eastrop manor was held by the de Mandeville family probably as one of the estates granted to Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, one of the eleven great Norman barons, by William the Conqueror. Certainly it was held by his great grandson Ernulf in 1156. The de Mandevilles continued to hold it until 1361 when Benedicta, widow of the recently deceased John, granted the manor to the rector and brethren of the house of Edington. The priory held the lands until the dissolution when in 1539 the priory and all its lands were surrendered to the King’s commissioners. The bulk of Edington’s estates including Eastrop was secured by Thomas, Lord Seymour, in 1541. In 1547 the land reverted to the crown on Seymour’s conviction for treason and his later execution. The manor was later acquired in 1568 by the Dunch’s of Little Wittenden, Berkshire, then passing via James Craggs into the Elliot family, the Earl’s of St Germans.

In summary, Eastrop was established as a place with an independent administrative identity well before Domesday, and retained that status throughout the Middle Ages. Further historical research may reveal details of the size and character of the settlement and population there, complementing the evidence of the earthworks which suggests that Eastrop was of at least hamlet size, and with its own open field land. Pottery sherds have been recovered of C13 to C15 date.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The monument is situated in the Upper Thames valley, on a clay plain which rises gradually to the west towards Highworth and includes the earthworks and buried archaeological remains of the medieval settlement and associated cultivation remains. The four scheduled areas are located to either side of Farringdon Road, to the west and south-west of Eastrop Farm.

DESCRIPTION The monument includes the earthwork and buried archaeological remains of a medieval settlement, comprising tofts, crofts, enclosures and an area of ridge and furrow. The extensive settlement remains are linear in plan, and are situated to either side of Farringdon Road (B4019) which appears to have formed the main street of the village. The earthworks of at least four lanes or hollow ways can be identified running at right angles to the main street and, in addition, a back lane runs parallel to the main street on its south side. Between the main street and the back lane are a number of small closes or crofts, some with identifiable house sites (tofts) within them. Many of the medieval agricultural fields representing the economy of the village have been destroyed or degraded by cultivation, particularly to the north side, but to the south-west and south-east the layout is legible either on the ground or from aerial photographs. The best preserved ridge and furrow can be seen at the extreme south-east end of the settlement and is included in the scheduling.

EXCLUSIONS All telegraph poles, fence posts, water troughs and stone boundary walls are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.

Selected Sources

Highworth Historical Society, accessed 17 April 2015 from
The Archaeology of Wiltshire’s Towns. An Extensive Urban Survey, Highworth. Wiltshire County Archaeology Service, 2004
Wiltshire Historic Environment Record, SU29SW453 - MWI20341, Shrunken Medieval village earthworks

National Grid Reference: SU2118392506


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End of official listing