Medieval village and field system remains immediately east of Haycroft
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jul-2019 at 21:21:20.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SJ 55531 57178
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.
This monument lies in the Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
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 system of communal agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were divided 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 baulks. 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 and walls of subsequent field enclosure. The remains of the abandoned part of the village of Spurstow together with a small part of the associated ridge and furrow cultivation to the north of the site offer an important insight into the structure of a medieval settlement. The outlines of house tofts and their associated enclosures can be traced on aerial photographs and the earthworks will reveal important evidence for the life and work of a farming community during the later medieval period. Waterlogged deposits may survive in the lower-lying ground and these will contain further information in the form of organic material, particularly plant remains, which can further our knowledge of the farming practices.
The monument includes the earthwork remains of a medieval settlement which lie
to the east of Haycroft farm. The remains appear to be concentrated to the
north east and south west of a former watercourse which ran down a shallow
valley to the north west of the present village of Spurstow. These remains
were probably part of the village of Spurstow which has shrunk or slightly
relocated in the post-medieval period. The village mentioned in the Domesday
survey was an important parish for the production of salt as well as a saline
spa in the 18th century.
The earthworks include the platforms for about six houses with adjoining
enclosures. A raised feature running north-south across the settlement is a
causeway which has been built up in more recent times to provide dry access.
It follows the line of a former field boundary. Each house platform is between
25m and 40m square with a ditch 2m wide to define it. Each of these platforms
would have been occupied by one or more medieval buildings . The settlement
may have fronted the present lane running south east from the farm. This was a
former route from Ridley Green to Beeston Moss and Beeston Castle. There are
traces of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation in the northern part of the
site and these run up to but not into the area of house platforms. The ridge
and furrow is interpreted as the remains of the field system associated with
the medieval village.
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
Morgan, P, Domesday Book, Cheshire, (1978)
Williams, S, West Cheshire from the Air, (1997), 55
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