Over Chalford medieval settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018426

Date first listed: 03-Nov-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Oct-1998


Ordnance survey map of Over Chalford medieval settlement
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Enstone

National Grid Reference: SP 35241 25185


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. 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 in general dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads, mostly of post-medieval date, set in the spaces between them. Depopulated village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.

In addition to being a good example of a nucleated medieval settlement, within the South Midlands local region, Over Chalford is one of the best preserved sites of its kind in Oxfordshire. It is unusual in forming one of a pair of villages, separated by the River Glyme which had separate early histories, although they came under single ownership at a later date. Evidence provided by aerial photographs, field survey, field observation and documentation indicates that the site contains important and largely undisturbed archaeological remains. These will provide evidence relating to the physical form of the village, the wealth and activities of its occupants and the development of the settlement and its buildings over time. The evidence will also allow the study of how changing economic factors and ownership can affect the lives of a settlement's inhabitants and, in this case, how they ultimately led to the abandonment of the site in favour of pastoral farming. Study of this evidence alongside the separate but eventually similar fate of Nether Chalford settlement would provide valuable information about the development of rural landuse in the South Midlands.


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


The monument includes the remains of Over Chalford (sometimes referred to as Broadstone) medieval settlement which is situated on high ground on the north side of the River Glyme at a point where the river runs through a narrow steep-sided valley. The river is fordable immediately to the west, and there is a settlement known as Nether Chalford, the subject of a separate scheduling, on the opposite slope of the river valley. Over Chalford medieval settlement survives as a remarkably well-preserved series of earthworks which clearly show the layout of the streets and buildings. In addition, documentary records, aerial photographs and archaeological survey have helped to build up a picture of the village during the medieval period. Entering the village from the south west (across the ford) a hollow way leads directly north and uphill towards the main Chipping Norton to Enstone road. A sample of this hollow way, 200m long, is included in the scheduling to preserve its relationship with the settlement. To the east and slightly higher than the river bank lies an open, roughly triangular, village green measuring about 80m across. Immediately north of this at a right angle to the hollow way from the ford lies an east-running hollow way which forms the main street through the village. This runs to a point at the centre of the earthworks where it turns left and runs north up the slope. At the centre of the settlement are two stone gate pillars 2m high, 0.7m wide and approximately 2m apart forming an entrance to an enclosure around what is believed to be the remains of the church. Immediately south is a further enclosure with several well-defined building foundations which represent the manor house and its ancillary stables and other buildings. North and south of the track leading to the remains of the church and manor house are a series of at least seven roughly rectangular enclosures or `crofts', defined by stone and earthen banks measuring from roughly 25m square to over 75m across. From documentary evidence it is known that the manor was established by 1086 and its economy was dependent on grazing the meadow near the river and around the village, with wooded and arable land higher up the hill to the north. The village began to shrink in size from about 1450, and this was probably due in part to the Black Death although the main cause was the increasing move from an early date, towards pastoral farming. In 1473 Oriel College, Oxford obtained both Over and Nether Chalford, and they were subsequently leased in 1480 to Richard Croft, Lord of Chipping Norton Manor. In 1506 a Thomas Haydock obtained the lease, and in 1510 he successfully applied for permission to enclose all remaining arable land in the two settlements and to let the houses fall into ruin. By 1524 the Chalfords were not considered settled for tax purposes and subsequently the land was only ever leased as pasture. Subsequent settlement in the area was limited to small, dispersed farms and of these only one, Old Chalford Farm survived up to the present day. Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire boundary fences, although the ground beneath 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: 30826

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Aston, M, Broadstone, (1971)
Aston, M, Broadstone, (1971)
Gobels, M D, The History of Dean and Chalford, (1935)
Oxoniensia, , 'Oxoniensia' in Broadstone, , Vol. XXXVI, (1971), 49
On site review meeting, Lisk, S., Discussion with SMR Officer, (1997)
PRN 948 Core, SMRO, Broadstone, (1971)
PRN 948, S.M.R.O., Broadstone / Over Chalford Deserted Village (Site), (1971)
PRN 948, SMRO, Broadstone, (1971)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Source Date: 1982 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing