Medieval settlement and prehistoric field system 520m north east and 760m east of Snap Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017366

Date first listed: 20-Aug-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jan-2000


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and prehistoric field system 520m north east and 760m east of Snap Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Aldbourne

National Grid Reference: SU 22258 76355, SU 22663 76184


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 East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern Province, an area in which settlement characteristics are shaped by strong contrasts in terrain. This is seen in the division between the chalk Downs, where chains of nucleated settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the Hampshire Basin, still dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the ancient New Forest, where nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the coastal strip extending into Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire some coastal areas and inland valleys are marked by high densities of dispersed settlement, much of it post-medieval. The Berkshire Downs and Marlborough Downs local region is characterised by extremely low densities of dispersed settlements on the downland, with villages and dense `strings' of hamlets and farmsteads in the well-watered valleys. Modern settlements are interspersed with the earthworks of abandoned medieval settlement sites.

Medieval settlement plans vary 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 paddocks. In the central provinces 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 remains of the abandoned medieval and later settlement at Snap survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Many areas of the hamlet have remained undisturbed since their abandonment and the survival of archaeological deposits relating to their occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain information about the dating, layout and economy of the settlement, and together with contemporary documents relating to the hamlet, will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind its development, decline and eventual abandonment. The associated prehistoric field system also provides an opportunity to understand the development and use of the area from a much earlier period, prior to written records.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Snap and an associated prehistoric field system and is situated 520m north east and 760m east of Snap Farm on the lower slopes of a dry chalk valley.

The area north east of Snap Farm comprises the main area of the medieval settlement, which survives as a series of low rectangular building platforms, rubble filled hollows and short lengths of trackway, and is defined along its southern edge by a hollow way up to 1.5m in depth and 8m in width. The house platforms include stone or brick wall foundations up to 1m in height, and although many are known to have remained in use until the start of the 20th century they are medieval in origin. Low parallel banks running northwards from the settlement indicate a series of medieval strip enclosures or crofts associated with the house platforms, whilst a series of similar banks formerly existing to the south are now only visible as cropmarks.

Referred to in 1268 as Snape, documentary sources indicate that there were 19 poll tax payers at Snap in 1377, at which point the hamlet formed part of the Duchy of Lancaster's Aldbourne estate and was one of the poorest settlements in the county. A map of 1773 showed between five and ten houses whilst the census of 1851 listed 41 inhabitants, a number which had declined to just two by 1909. In 1913 the settlement was the subject of a legal dispute and a debate in Parliament following its purchase by a local butcher who turned it over to sheep grazing, forcing farm labourers to seek employment elsewhere and leading to the abandonment of the cottages. Some of the buildings were demolished by the Army during World War I when the site was used for gunnery practice, although the main farm at the western end of the settlement remained standing until the 1930s.

The area east of Snap Farm includes an east to west orientated terrace up to 2m in height representing a surviving part of a much larger prehistoric field system which originally extended across the valley to the north east, but which has now been ploughed out. The ploughed out sections of the field system are not included in the scheduling. A second slight terrace 30m north of the first also relates to the early field system and was reused in the post- medieval period. The field system is bisected by a medieval raised trackway which runs on a north east to south west axis for 200m. A map dated to 1773 shows that the trackway originally connected the settlements of Upper Upham, Woodsend and Snap, but other early maps indicate that it had fallen out of use within only 20 years.

All fence posts, feed troughs, horse jumps and the surfaces of all paths and trackways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 30292

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Sewell, A, Prehistory of the Aldbourne Basin, (1985), p.71
Sewell, A, Prehistory of the Aldbourne Basin, (1988), p.71
Weaver-Smith, M, Snap - A Modern Example of Depopulation, (1958), p.386-9
Weaver-Smith, M, Snap - A Modern Example of Depopulation, (1958), p.386-9
Holyoak, V.M., Sketch Plan Showing SM 30292/02, (1999)
Title: Andrews and Durys Map of Wiltshire Source Date: 1773 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" Series - Wiltshire XXIII SE Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: SU 27 NW 28 Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Wiltshire County Council, 1:10000, (1981)
Wiltshire County Council, SU 27 NW 451,
Wiltshire County Council, SU 27 NW 666 - Field System East of Woodsend,

End of official listing