North Middleton medieval village
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018022
Date first listed: 18-Mar-1965
Date of most recent amendment: 27-Apr-1998
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2019 at 08:57:21.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park: NORTHUMBERLAND
National Grid Reference: NT 99036 23926
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 last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Wear-Tweed sub-Province of the Central Province, an
area long characterised, except for the western margins, by nucleated
settlements both surviving and deserted. Variations within the sub-Province
reflect land ownership as well as terrain: on some estates in Northumberland
there was much dispersal of farmsteads and consequent village and hamlet
depopulation after the Middle Ages, whereas Durham saw greater stability
because of ecclesiastical control. An overlay of mining settlements adds
complexity to the coalfield areas.
The Cheviot Margin local region is a narrow transition zone between two
contrasting areas, the high moorlands of the Cheviots and the agriculturally
favourable lowlands of the Tweed Valley and the Northumbrian Vales. Fieldwork
has shown that this region retains archaeological traces likely to date from
many periods, providing evidence for sequences of land occupation. Medieval
settlements are mainly in the form of small hamlets and isolated farmsteads.
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 include 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. Most nucleated villages were surrounded by a series of unenclosed fields known as an open field system. Open field systems originated before AD 1000 and continued in use throughout the Middle Ages. However, recent work has shown that some open field systems preserve the fossilized remains of earlier Roman and prehistoric systems witin their basic framework. From the late 16th century, the open fields began to be enclosed by banks and hedges into the more familiar fields of the present landscape. Formerly more extensive, open field systems generally survive as fragments in association with medieval settlements. They were the product of a communal system of farming in which each tenant held a share of a manor's arable and pasture land. The holdings of each tenant were scattered across the open fields, the basic unit of tenancy being the lande. Landes were parcelled together into larger groups called furlongs, whose length and the number of landes they contained varied greatly. Furlongs were grouped together into fields and an open field system usually included several such fields. Systems of crop rotation were employed, and these might be based on either the field or the furlong. The sides of the furlongs were marked by baulks of unploughed land which often survive as low banks and are known as furlong boundaries. The ends of the furlongs were marked by headlands which survive as prominant earthen banks. Ploughmen used the headlands as spaces on which to turn the teams of oxen or horses which pulled the plough. Headlands were usually ploughed after work on the rest of the furlong had been completed, though sometimes they were left unploughed and along the baulks between furlongs, provided access between furlongs. Such unploughed areas were grazed by livestock. The most characteristic features of open field systems is ridge and furrow, a form of medieval cultivation produced by the action of a heavy plough with a fixed mould board. The medieval village of North Middleton is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. The village is a good example of its type, which, taken together with the remains of its open field system will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval settlement in the region.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the remains of the medieval village of North Middleton,
situated on each side of a small tributary of Coldgate Water. The village is
divided into three areas by the stream and by a hollow way aligned roughly
east-west. Two rows of small plots, with smaller enclosures and platforms
which represent at least six buildings, face each other across the hollow way.
The remains survive as banks of earth and stone on average 0.3m to 0.7m high
but in places stand up to 1.2m high. The walls of some buildings are exposed
and show that they are constructed of stone with clay bonding. The buildings
range between 8m and 27m long and some are divided into three or four
compartments. A well lies on the south side of the hollow way and is covered
with a millstone. To the north of the well there are the remains of what is
thought to be a kiln; it survives as a turf covered mound and is roughly key-
hole shaped in plan. Two areas of ridge and furrow cultivation lie at the
north east and west of the village and measure an average 4m wide from ridge
Documentary evidence suggests that the remains are those of North Middleton,
originally called Midilest Middleton, first mentioned in 1242. In 1296 there
were eight taxpayers and in 1580 11 tenants. By 1759 the vill was let to a
single tenant but the settlement is thought to have migrated in the late 18th
century with only a few buildings still standing at the old site c.1800.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the two
ruined modern cottages on the north side of the village and the associated
stone field walls which run across the northern part of the site; however, 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: 29344
Legacy System: RSM
Dixon, P J, The Deserted Medieval Villages of North Northumberland, 1984, PhD Thesis
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