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
evolved gradually during the past 1500 years or more.
The Alston Block local region encompasses the high moorlands north of
Stainmore. Away from the `specialist nucleations', (the clusters of dwellings
and workshops associated with mining and the railways), the dispersed
settlement forms include both seasonal and permanent farmsteads, as well as
specialist sheep and cattle ranches. The latter were normally outlying
dependencies of larger settlements or estate centres located in adjacent
regions. In these upland environments, dating settlements can be difficult.
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
principle) nucleated settlement focus such as a village, and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets and 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 other 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 mediaeval
settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and the Northern and
Western Province 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 medieval farmstead at High Knott, 380m west of West Force Garth survives
well and forms part of a pattern of dispersed medieval settlement in Upper
The monument includes a medieval farmstead on the north east facing slope of
High Knott, at Force Garth, Upper Teesdale. It occupies a slight terrace about
350m west of West Force Garth.
The farmstead comprises the remains of a rectangular building forming one side
of a small yard, a smaller sub-rectangular building attached to a corner of
the yard, a circular structure, and a small clearance cairn. The larger
rectangular building appears to be a longhouse and has two rooms with a
possible cross passage. It is 13m long and 6m wide. Its walls are visible as
stony banks about 2.7m wide and 0.7m high. The yard, of which the building
forms one side, is 13m by 11m. Its walls are visible as a slight stony bank.
The smaller sub-rectangular building lies at the south corner of the yard and
is about 5m square. The circular structure, possibly also a small building,
lies south east of the yard. It is 5m in diameter with rubble walls 1.5m wide
and 0.3m high. The clearance cairn is east of this and is 4.5m in diameter and
about 1m high. During fieldwork, a small fragment of medieval pottery was
found in a molehill on the slope below the farmstead.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.