Site of the medieval village of Moreton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017454

Date first listed: 29-Jun-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Site of the medieval village of Moreton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)

Parish: Dinton-with-Ford and Upton

National Grid Reference: SP 79022 09461


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 Inner Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by large numbers of nucleated settlements, both surviving and deserted, many of which are thought to have been established in Anglo-Saxon times. Most of the sub-Province's thinly scattered dispersed settlements were created in post-medieval times, but some of the local regions are characterised by higher proportions of dispersed dwellings and hamlets, which probably mark the patchy survival of older landscapes. The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision. Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is generally dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads, mostly of post-medieval date, set in spaces between them. Depopulated village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands. The site of the medieval village of Moreton is clearly defined by an area of earthworks in which evidence for the nature of the settlement is very well preserved. The tofts and crofts will contain buried evidence for houses and other structures, accompanied by a range of features such a boundaries, refuse pits and drainage channels, all related to the life of the settlement. Artefacts found in association with these features will provide insights into the date and duration of occupation, the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the economy of the settlement. Environmental evidence may also be recovered, illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the settlement was established and providing further information about its agricultural regime. The Aylesbury Vale contains a number of medieval villages, some of which continue to exist as modern villages, whilst others, such as neighbouring settlements of Waldridge and Aston Mullins, were clearly abandoned. Moreton is unusual in that it does not appear to follow the common trend of deliberate depopulation prompted by the economic advantages of sheep rearing in the early 15th century; perhaps because its agricultural regime had already shifted towards pasture by this time. Moreton is also particularly interesting for the continuity of settlement indicated by the moated site, which is thought to have provided the dwelling of the principal tenant in the early stages of the village's development, and the site of Moreton House, representing the shifted focus of the 17th century farming estate after the demise of the village. Both the moated site and the later manorial enclosure will contain buried evidence of buildings and other features related to the periods of occupation; indicated, in the later case on the map of the estate dated to 1660.


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


The monument includes the buried and visible remains of the medieval village of Moreton, together with a medieval moated site and a later manorial enclosure, located toward the southern edge of the settlement area. The former village of Moreton lies in the Aylesbury Vale, isolated within an expanse of farmland between the present villages of Ford and Bishopstone. The village earthworks cover an area of approximately 6ha on a gentle slope which descends to the north of Moreton Farm. The central feature of the village is a broad hollow way, orientated north east to south west, and leading towards a ford across the brook at the foot of the slope. The east side of the hollow way is flanked by two large ditched enclosures, each covering approximately 1ha, which are believed to have served as paddocks. Both contain slightly raised platforms at the southern ends which indicate the locations of buildings: either dwellings or byres. Further south, towards the moated site, the hollow way passes through an area which was termed `The Green' on an estate map dated 1660. This area contains numerous slight undulations reflecting past use, as well as an oval platform thought to represent the site of a post mill. To the west of the hollow way the earthworks are more complex. At least three, and perhaps four narrow rectangular enclosures, each separated by ditches, extend in parallel down the slope towards the brook. These crofts (paddocks or enclosed areas of cultivation) are related to a series of tofts, which are the sites of houses and outbuildings, which remain visible as slight sub- rectangular platforms arranged along their southern ends. Faint traces of ridged cultivation are visible within the western crofts and in the stockyards to the east, suggesting that the village expanded, perhaps in the 12th or 13th century, to take in part of the surrounding open field system which can still be detected on aerial photographs. On the crest of the slope, near the southern end of the tofts, are a number of less clearly defined platforms representing further buildings: either dwellings or structures related to the agricultural regime. The moated site lies to the south of the village earthworks, slightly to the south east of The Green, and immediately to the west of the dilapidated remains of Moreton Farm. The moated site is sub-circular in plan, the island measuring approximately 70m across and surrounded by a broad ditch, the south eastern part of which has been largely infilled. The surface of the island retains impressions of former buildings, some of which, dating from the 18th century, formed part of the adjacent farm complex (which itself is not included in the scheduling). The Enclosure map of 1803 depicts some of these structures, as well as the two ponds created by enlarging the southern arm of the moat. The moated site is thought to have been the principal messuage associated with the medieval village although, by the mid- 17th century, it appears to have been superseded by a manor house located approximately 100m to the north west. The estate map of 1660 depicts an elaborate building with three chimneys set within a rectangular enclosure which tapers towards the north and appears to overlie part of the former village green. Two other structures are shown in the northern part of the enclosure, a small outbuilding with a chimney (perhaps a detached kitchen), and a rectangular building with a large arched doorway which may have been a chapel. The buildings have since been demolished, although the enclosure, which is marginally raised above its surroundings and defined by a broad ditch, survives. Low platforms indicate the locations of the main building and putative chapel as shown on the estate map. The village of Moreton is thought to derive its name either from its setting, the settlement by the moor or fen, or from Earl Moreton, who held the estate from the Bishop of Winchester at the time of Domesday (AD 1086). Despite having relinquished its rights to the Crown for a period in the later 16th century, the see of Winchester still held the manor of Moreton in 1797. The tenancy passed through the hands of various families from the 16th century onwards, including those of the Wallers, the Comptons and the Lees. A roll of accounts from 1521-2, agreed between Thomas Lee and his brother Francis, provides a picture of a thriving pastoral economy through sales of large numbers of cattle and quantities of wool. The conversion from an arable economy to one dominated by pasture may have occurred within the life of the village, given the expansion of village enclosures over earlier ridge and furrow, although by 1521 this process may have led to the replacement of the village by a single farm. The village had certainly been abandoned by the time of the estate map of 1660. All sheds, fences, gates and feed bins are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 29400

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire: Volume II, (1908), 278
Page, F, The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1908), 278
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Chalkey, B, Three Deserted Medieval Villages in the Vale of Aylesbury, 1985, Unpublished dissertation
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP (St Joseph, J.K.), NY 60-61, (1965)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP (St Joseph, JK), SG 88, (1962)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP, NY 60-61, (1964)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP, SG 88, (1962)
Title: Map of Moreton House and Closes Source Date: 1932 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Tracing of 1660 map, F Gurney (1932)
Vertical monochrome, RAF, Run 348, Print 4078, (1948)

End of official listing