Alnham medieval settlement


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

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 separate scheduling. 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 scheduling. 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:
Legacy System:


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

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