Medieval and post-medieval settlement remains and associated field system immediately east of Overton Hall


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


Ordnance survey map of Medieval and post-medieval settlement remains and associated field system immediately east of Overton Hall
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 47424 48215

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 woodland.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region, but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently include features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found in both the South Eastern and Northern and Western Provinces of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas. Where found, their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. The remains of the hamlet of Overton with its well defined hollow ways, tofts and crofts and extensive surviving ridge and furrow open field system form an important group of earthworks. Waterlogged deposits close to the brook will also preserve organic evidence for cultivated plants and possible timber structures connected with the period of occupation of the settlement.


The monument includes a hamlet with associated earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation immediately east of Overton Hall. The settlement was listed in the Domesday Book and lies next to the 12th or 13th century moated site of Overton Hall. The earthworks indicate platforms for five houses or farm buildings (tofts), two hollow ways and extensive ridge and furrow cultivation remains. In addition there is evidence for four more buildings which were recorded on the 1840 tithe award maps. The site was therefore in occupation up to the mid-19th century. The two hollow ways run into the site from the north and converge in the centre to form a single hollow way which runs south to the brook on the southern side of the site. Here there was probably a bridge or ford since the track can be traced up to a gap in the bank which defines the northern side of a green lane which runs along the southern edge of the area. At the point where the hollow ways converge there are the tofts for two or three houses. On the hillslope 150m to the north east, above this point, are further tofts and small enclosures (crofts). In the triangle formed by the hollow ways, aerial photography has revealed ridge and furrow cultivation, and there is further evidence of this form of agriculture to the west and north of this triangle. Two distinct plough headlands form well-defined ridges running north-south in the northern part of the area of protection and these have been cut by the concrete road which runs through the site to the hall. In the field to the north of this road there are the remains of ridge and furrow which are not sufficiently well-preserved to be included in the scheduling. On the eastern fringe of the site there are further remains which are not well-defined and are probably old field boundaries and a house platform which appears on the 1840 tithe award maps. In the south western corner of the site is a modern pipe bridge, covered by earth to allow cattle to cross to the grazing in the area to the south of the hall. This area has been shown to retain remains of ridge and furrow. Post and wire fences along the eastern and northern edges of the monument and the modern pipe bridge 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:
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Books and journals
Morgan, P (ed), The Domesday Book, (1978), 264c
Williams, S R, West Cheshire from the Air, (1996), 52


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

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