Alnham medieval settlement
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016713
Date first listed: 15-Oct-1980
Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jun-1999
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Feb-2019 at 18:24:38.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NT 99111 10863
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 last 1500 years or more.
The Tweed local region includes the Kyloe Hills, the Till Valley and Milfield
Plain, as well as the rolling ridges of the Tweed Valley proper. Its
rectangular fields, low densities of dispersed farmsteads, tenant cottages and
estate villages all signify agrarian improvement in the 18th and 19th
centuries. Earthworks, usually in or near present villages, sometimes indicate
the earlier medieval farming communities which have been replaced.
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 the parish church within their boundaries and, as part of the manorial system, most villages included one or more manorial centres which may also 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 about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. The medieval settlement remains at Alnham are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits, including environmental information from waterlogged areas of the monument. It will contribute to any study of settlement during this period.
The monument includes remains of Alnham medieval village, located on the
margin of the Cheviot hills. Alnham was part of the barony of Alnwick and was
held by the Vesci family from the time of the Norman Conquest. In 1297 it
passed to the Bishop of Durham and in 1309 the barony was sold to Henry de
Percy, in whose family the land has remained ever since. In 1352, after the
Black Death, there were 34 holdings, of which half were waste. In 1586 there
were 29 tenants. The decay of the village was linked to a policy of leasing
the tenement lands to a single tenant during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Almham Castle lies to the south of the village and is the subject of a
The village is situated on uneven ground which slopes down from south to
north, and lies on the south of a small tributary of the River Aln; the layout
of the village appears to have been dictated by stream courses and originally
extended to the north and east of the present visible remains. The remains
survive as a series of earthworks between 0.3m and 0.5m high and comprise,
from east to west: a toft with an enclosure and two house sites, a small hill
surrounded by a bank identified as a close on a plan of 1619, and a group of
three houses and an enclosure. A hollow way crosses the village from south
west to north east and is waterlogged in places. The areas of settlement have
been sited on two artificially levelled areas and it has been suggested that
the remains at the west end of the village pre-date those at the east. They
are separated from an area of degraded ridge and furrow cultivation by a steep
slope which has been artificially enhanced. The original medieval settlement
was probably larger and focussed on the church, which has Anglo-Saxon origins.
Only those village remains confirmed to survive are included in the
The post and wire fence along the western edge of the monument is 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: 31726
Legacy System: RSM
NT 91 SE 16,
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