Medieval village of Hunton and field system


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Richmondshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 19122 92910

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. The Yorkshire Dales local region is broadly an extension of the lowlands into the hill mass of the Pennines, but increasing environmental constraints have ensured that each dale has developed particular and often wholly local characteristics. The villages and hamlets on the valley side terraces of the lower and middle dales appear to be of medieval foundation, while the surrounding farmstead sites vary greatly in date, from early medieval to 19th century.

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 where 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 survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the lowlands east of the Pennines, 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. The cultivation of these fields produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant ridge and furrow where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. 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 landscape. In addition to the field system at Hunton two fishponds also survive. A fishpond was an artificial pool of slow moving water constructed to cultivate, breed and store fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. The medieval village of Hunton and the remains of its field system are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The village is a good example of its type which will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval settlement in the region.


The monument includes the remains of the medieval village of Hunton. Included in the scheduling are earthwork remains of building platforms, associated yards and enclosures, tracks and hollow ways and a pair of fishponds. Also included is a section of the medieval field system. The medieval village is visible as a series of earthworks located on the top and southern slope of a hillside to the north of the current village of Hunton. The medieval village lies to the east of a street, now preserved as a hollow way, which extends from the south east to north west across the centre of the monument. A row of rectangular platforms extends east-west at the top of the slope and represents the remains of medieval houses. A back lane runs east to west at the rear of these properties. Further to the south are the foundations of buildings visible as low platforms, mounds and small enclosures. Associated with these earthworks and sometimes attached to them are a series of larger enclosures interpreted as crofts or small allotments. To the north of the village, on the top of a hill, are two large rectangular fishponds seperated by a low bank. To the west of the hollow way, on more level ground, are areas of ridge and furrow cultivation, forming discrete blocks separated by balks and headlands. The medieval field system would originally have been more extensive but changing patterns of landuse mean that little now remains identifiable. Little is known of the history of Hunton, except that it existed in the medieval period and, in common with other settlements in England, became deserted, although it is not known exactly when or why this occurred. It was deserted by the 14th century and it is thought that the Black Death in 1349 and raids by the Scots earlier in the century were responsible. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all walls, fences, gates, feeding troughs, concrete footings and telegraph poles; the ground beneath these features is, however, 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:
Legacy System:


CUC CIB 24, (1979)


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.

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