North Charlton medieval village and open field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018348

Date first listed: 21-Aug-1998


Ordnance survey map of North Charlton medieval village and open field system
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Dec-2018 at 14:56:03.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Eglingham

National Grid Reference: NU 16742 23047, NU 16800 22870, NU 17168 22827


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. 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. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen teams produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant 'ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. Although the remains of North Charlton medieval village are partly built over, considerable areas survive and contain significant archaeological deposits. Together with the remains of its open field system, it will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval settlement and land use in the region.


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


The monument includes part of the shrunken remains of the medieval village of North Charlton and its open field system, situated in the coastal plain of north Northumberland. The monument is divided into three areas. The township of North Charlton was held by the lords of Ditchburn and in the 13th century was the property of Ralph Fitz Roger. In 1296 a document records 12 inhabitants eligible to pay taxes. North Charlton passed to the Beaumont family in the early 14th century and, apart from a 20 year spell in the late 15th century, it remained in their hands until the early 16th century. A map of 1769 shows a two-row village at North Charlton. The village is aligned east-west and is divided by low banks into small plots with the remains of one building standing up to 0.4m high on the north side. To the south west of this building, across a slight hollow way, is a probable market cross consisting of a stone shaft 1.3m tall, set in a socket stone on a square base of three steps; a cross is referred to in a survey of 1578 as standing on South Row. The cross is Listed Grade II. The Charlton Burn separates the north side of the village from an area of ridge and furrow cultivation and a prominent mound called Castle Close. However, there is no evidence for there having been a castle at North Charlton and building foundations on top of the mound have been interpreted as those of the Chapel of St Giles. The foundations measure 15m by 8m with a structure 6m square attached to the north west side; the interior is slightly raised. The chapel is mentioned in documents in the mid-12th century and had fallen into ruin by the 14th century. Around the base of the mound is a stony bank up to 1m high. The site of a graveyard is thought to lie to the south of the mound where numerous graves were found when the land was under cultivation. To the west of the mound is a sub-rectangular enclosure which overlies the ridge and furrow and is interpreted as a later farmstead. To the east of the village, and now separated from it by the A1 trunk road, are part of the medieval open fields which once surrounded the whole village. They survive in the form of a series of furlongs or fields, each containing well preserved ridge and furrow cultivation. Other earthwork remains of the village survive to the west and are not included in the scheduling as their nature and date are not fully understood. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the telegraph poles and their supports, a concrete slab bridge across the Charlton Burn, post and wire fencing, a brick reservoir, stone field walls and track across the eastern area of ridge and furrow, and a water tank, although the ground beneath all 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: 29349

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing