Remains of Barton Bendish medieval settlement immediately west of Abbey Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018650

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Remains of Barton Bendish medieval settlement immediately west of Abbey Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Barton Bendish

National Grid Reference: TF 71815 06168


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 Wash sub-Province of the South-eastern Province, an area which can be divided into two parts. The western part is the fenlands with associated marshlands, siltlands and islands, with villages, hamlets and bands of farmsteads and cottages clinging to the slight islands and dykes above land once seasonally flooded. The eastern part embraces the sands and loams of west Norfolk, studded with ancient villages and hamlets, some of them depopulated. To the south lie the Brecklands, an elevated, thinly-settled region. The Fen local region is distinguished by its flat, open landscapes with embankments and drainage channels. Nucleated settlements are largely absent, and dispersed dwellings lie thinly scattered along roads, embankments and slight natural rises. Subtle variations reflect differing phases of medieval and later reclamation.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities at the centre of a parish or township, sharing 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, and enclosed crofts and small paddocks. They frequently include 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 buried deposits. In west Norfolk, villages are one of the characteristic features of medieval settlement, and their archaeological remains are an important source of understanding of life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

The remains of the medieval settlement immediately west of Abbey Farm survive well and are a good example of an area of such settlement which was later abandoned as the village of which it formed a part contracted in population and size. The earthworks and buried remains associated with them will contain archaeological information concerning the origins, development and occupation of this outer part of the settlement, to supplement what is known from the limited historical records and from archaeological field work and excavation in other parts of the village.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of part of the medieval settlement of Barton Bendish, located some 750m north east of St Andrews Church and the centre of the modern village. A moated site, identified as that of East Hall manor, lies about 300m to the south west of the earthworks and is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The settlement remains are visible as a series of rectilinear earthwork enclosures extending to either side of part of a sunken roadway which runs on a south west-north east alignment and is about 13m wide and up to 1m deep, measured from the level of the ground to the south. The road way is identified as one named Blind Lane in an early 17th century survey, and the enclosures represent tofts (homestead enclosures) and associated closes adjoining it. Running south eastwards from the sunken way are the remains of a slight bank, approximately 102m in length, forming the western boundary of an enclosure which is defined at the southern end by a slight scarp. The scarp is thought to mark the northern edge of the main street of the medieval village which formerly continued north eastwards from the part still in use, now known as Church Road. The enclosures to the north of the sunken way vary in size and are bounded by ditches from about 0.4m up to 1m in depth with traces of embankments in a few places. Three of these enclosures adjoin the roadway, running back 80m-85m to a well defined ditch about 5m wide which follows a slightly irregular course roughly parallel to the line of the way and divides them from a further group of at least six enclosures to the north. Along the southern side of this ditch the surface of the three enclosures is raised about 0.5m to form a broad bank of varying width. The enclosures beyond extend over an area measuring approximately 100m south west-north east by 157m and one, on the western side, has a roughly rectangular, raised platform at the northern end which perhaps supported a building or buildings. A ditch or linear hollow, embanked slightly on the southern side, runs north eastward from the outer corner of the easternmost and smallest enclosure, widening and curving to the north, and was perhaps part of a sunken track or field path.

Fragments of medieval pottery found in molehills within the area of the enclosures provide evidence for the occupation of the site during that period and a particular concentration has been noted in the northern part of the site. Larger quantities of pottery, dating from the Late Saxon period to the 16th century, have been recorded in the ploughsoil of fields to the west and south west.

According to the Domesday survey of 1086, Barton Bendish in the late 11th century was already a substantial settlement, with five manors, at least two (later three) churches and a listed adult population of 83, indicating a total population of around 400. Subsequent tax returns and valuations show that it remained one of the most important settlements in Clacklose Hundred throughout the medieval period, although there was a gradual decline from the 14th century onwards, leading ultimately to the abandonment of the eastern end of the village, probably in the 16th century. The pattern of settlement, which developed in linear fashion along either side of the main east-west street, has been demonstrated as a result of archaeological field work.

All field gates and fences, together with service poles across the southern part of the monument, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 30556

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Rogerson, A, Davison, A, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in Barton Bendish and Caldecote: Fieldwork in South West Norfolk, , Vol. 80, (1997), 22-42

End of official listing