Tatton medieval settlement, prehistoric settlement remains, the buried remains of Tatton Old Hall and mill dam
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016586
Date first listed: 05-Jan-1976
Date of most recent amendment: 16-Apr-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SJ 75479 81171, SJ 75627 81283, SJ 75798 81446
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 Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included one or more manorial centres which may survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding of medieval life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant 'ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of an open field system. Individual strips were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in an original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. The Tatton medieval village with the associated medieval hall and the remains of a mill constitute an important survival fossilised in the landscape of a later parkland. The earthwork remains of house platforms and field boundaries, ridge and furrow cultivation and hollow ways with surviving old road surfaces will provide evidence of the communities who have occupied the site since the Iron Age. An area of peat in the settlement remains will retain evidence for the climate and farming regimes during the long period of the villages occupation. The mill dam and pond, now dry, will retain evidence of the ecology and history of an early medieval mill, both in the silts at the bottom of the pond area and in the base of the surviving earthwork dam.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes medieval settlement remains of the village of Tatton,
the below ground remains of the medieval Old Hall, including a demolished
wing, and a medieval millpond and dam to the south west of the hall, as well
as prehistoric settlement remains. The monument is situated in the park of
Tatton Hall on a plateau which lies above the west bank of the Tatton Mere
Brook and is in three separate areas of protection.
The medieval village of Tatton was abandoned when the present hall was built
and the land emparked. The settlement is mentioned in Domesday but had
substantially declined by the late 14th century.
The village had a group of buildings and associated field systems clustered
around a hollow way which led from a plateau of arable lands down to the
Tatton Mere Brook. Part of the site of this village was fully excavated
between 1979 and 1985 revealing that the site had been in continuous
occupation and development since 350 BC.
The surviving remains of the village are visible as earthworks to the west and
east of a deep hollow way which runs for about 100m down from the plateau
towards the present bridge over the brook on the east side of the hall. This
was originally part of a road from Rostherne to Knutsford.
The visible earthworks include the tofts (house platforms) and crofts
(attached enclosures) of several buildings together with the remains of
extensive ridge and furrow cultivation extending for about 800m to the west
and north of the settlement. The earliest building found during the
investigation was a roundhouse of timber construction linked to a cobbled yard
which lay within a palisaded enclosure. This was occupied in 350 BC and
eventually superseded by two rectangular timber buildings, one of them a
longhouse. This phase was dated to 150 BC and continued to AD 120. Finds of
Roman pottery show that this was part of a Romano-British farm.
Later on this farm was replaced by a mid to late Anglo-Saxon longhouse, also
of timber, together with other structures. The complex was cut by ditched
boundaries of a later reorganisation into the crofts and tofts of a medieval
settlement together with a timber dwelling and byre and an ancillary structure
of sleeper beam construction occupied between AD 1200 and 1400. This group of
buildings was abandoned c.AD 1400 but the property divisions remained to form
the basis of a post-medieval bank and hedge system. To the west, east and
north of the settlement lay the open fields and grazing common of the medieval
village. These are traceable as well-preserved earthworks of medieval ridge
and furrow extending to the west and north of the site. There is evidence from
other field systems in the area that narrow ridge and furrow cultivation
continued here up to the 18th century. This was superimposed on and adapted
the earlier medieval pattern of broad ridges. A sample of the best preserved
earthwork remains of the field system are included in the scheduling, to
preserve the association with the village.
Situated 300m to the north of the settlement site, a hollow way leads from the
plateau north eastwards down to the brook and towards the former medieval
village of Northshaw.
After Tatton village had been largely abandoned there is some evidence of
continuing occupation of an area to the north of Tatton Old Hall. A section
excavated through the road surface in the hollow way through the village and
an associated building on the southern side of it provided evidence of use
during the 17th and 18th centuries. Taken together there is evidence for the
continuous occupation of the village site until the sequence of building and
occupation was interrupted by the emparkment of the area and the first phase
of the building of the present Tatton Hall. This took place in the first years
of the 18th century.
Tatton Old Hall lies to the south of the village remains beside a brook which
flows out of Tatton Mere. This was the home of the Egerton family from 1598 to
the late 17th century. A great hall was built in the 15th century and added to
and improved in the 16th and 17th centuries. The building was originally
surrounded by an enclosure bank, now an earthwork visible for a short length
on the north western side of the present farmyard. This was superseded by a
wall around the farmyard, with ancillary buildings lying beyond the western
side. The southern side of the enclosure is formed by the Tatton Mere Brook.
Within the enclosure the present farm buildings dating from the 18th and 19th
centuries, an orchard and a farm building, taken from another farm and
reconstructed on the site in recent years, have obscured any earlier
buildings. Trial excavation and resistivity survey within the farmyard showed
that this area was largely devoid of medieval remains except for an area to
the north west of the great hall where there are the foundations of an extra
wing beyond the present building, extending for 11m from the end of it. In
view of this evidence only the ground beneath Tatton Old Hall and the remains
of the extra bay are included in scheduling. The medieval hall was abandoned
by the Egerton family when the present Tatton Hall was built. The buildings
continued in use as a farm until the middle of the 20th century. Tatton Old
Hall is Listed Grade II* and is excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath is included.
Remains of a dam and millpond survive 160m south west of Tatton Old Hall. The
dam survives as an earthwork, 30m long and 12m wide at the base. Radiocarbon
dates have confirmed that it was in use during the eleventh century. To the
south of this dam is a millpond, visible as a scooped area 40m by 10m,
parallel to the stream bed. The mill building has not yet been located.
Tatton Old Hall, all road surfaces and display boards in the village area are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 30362
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Higham, N J , Excavations at Tatton, (1980), 52
Higham, N J , Excavations at Tatton, (1980), 49-56
Higham, N J, Excavations at Tatton, (1983), 88-97
Higham, N J, Excavations at Tatton 8th season, (1985), 2-3
Higham, N J, Excavations at Tatton 8th season, (1985), 3-5
Williams, S R, Cheshire History, (1984), 4-6
Higham, NJ, (1997)
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