Medieval settlement of Sheldon


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Chippenham Without
National Grid Reference:
ST 88378 74099

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 Cotswold Scarp and Vales sub-Province of the Central Province, a scarp and vale landscape extending south eastwards from the clays and alluvium of the Severn Plain, over the limestones of the Cotswolds to the Oxford Clay Vale. Villages and hamlets concentrate thickly in the Severn Valley and the Vale of Pewsey, but are only moderately dense elsewhere. They are most thinly scattered on the higher ridge of the north east Cotswolds, an area where in 1851 there were low populations and frequent deserted villages. Overall, there are very low concentrations of dispersed farmsteads, the only exceptions being the Vale of Pewsey and the Upper Avon and Thames watershed. The Cotswolds south west and north east local region is characterised by village and hamlet settlements, and contains few scattered dwellings. The landscape of this gently tilted plateau prospered in the Middle Ages through the wool trade based upon the sheep pastures of its former open wolds. Villages tend to lie in folds or along valley sides, where water was available.

The medieval village of Sheldon is well preserved and is a good example of its class displaying particuarly diverse and well defined features. It does not seem to have been ploughed since the village disappeared. The manor and village of Sheldon is well documented from the medieval period onwards.


The monument includes the medieval settlement of Sheldon situated on a slight south east facing slope to the west of Sheldon Manor affording views over the low lying clay vale towards Salisbury Plain. The settlement occupies the south eastern slope of a small clay ridge. It is linear in plan and two distinct centres of occupation can be identified. At the top of the slope above the eastern side of the settlement is Sheldon Wood while the present day manor and associated buildings are situated to the east of the monument. A hollow way, 1.5m deep and up to 12m wide, interpreted as the main street runs east-west immediately south of Sheldon Wood. To the south of this the main area of settlement comprises a number of substantial house platforms up to 1.5m high set into the slope. These continue to the north east abutting the field boundary to the north of the manor. On the top of the slope a series of paddocks are enclosed by a village boundary bank. The paddocks are defined by shallow ditches. South of this main group of platforms a hollow way runs east- west at the bottom of the slope before merging with a field boundary to the west. Adjacent to this two funnel shaped downcut features are interpreted as wells. To the west of the main settlement the hollow way continues WSW, to the north of which a series of downcut strip field boundaries run north-south to the top of the slope. Adjacent to the hollow way the fields have been encroached upon by a line of small platforms. Towards the western end, the main street joins another hollow way running north-south to the top of the ridge. To the west of this a series of platforms represent another, smaller centre of occupation which carries on into Corsham Wood to the west. Beyond this a further village boundary bank marks the end of the settlement. To the west of the main settlement and south of the high street an area untouched by modern agriculture is interpreted as land used for pasture. Sheldon Manor is mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of 1172-3 when it was granted to Sir William de Wendeval. The village is first referred to in the inquisition on the death of Joan Gascelyn who died in 1287 which lists 13 cottagers holding land at the manor of Shuldone. The village had vanished by 1582 when it was split into two farms. All fence posts and cattle troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Gerrard, C, Sheldon Manor deserted Medieval Village Chippenham, (1989), 1-2


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

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