Maulds Meaburn medieval settlement, part of its associated medieval open field system and a mill race
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018934
Date first listed: 11-Jan-1965
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jul-2000
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Eden (District Authority)
Parish: Crosby Ravensworth
National Grid Reference: NY 62218 16909, NY 62375 16553, NY 62403 16296, NY 62489 16792, NY 62546 16559, NY 62579 16703
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.
This monument lies in the Cumbria-Solway sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, an area characterised by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads,
but with some larger nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally
favoured areas, established after the Norman Conquest. Traces of seasonal
settlements, or shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where
surrounding communities grazed their livestock during the summer months.
The Eden Valley local region is a rich agricultural lowland ringed by mountain
pastures. It is densely settled with small market towns, villages, hamlets and
isolated farmsteads. Medieval castles and monasteries, a multitude of
earthwork sites and the distinctive mix of Celtic, Scottish, English,
Scandinavian and Norman place-names all testify to the ancient and long
sustained occupation of this important region.
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 also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the northern and western province of England medieval villages occurred infrequently amid areas of otherwise dispersed settlement and good examples are therefore proportionally infrequent. Thus their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for understanding rural life in the five centuries or more following the Norman Conquest. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided 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 where it survives the resultant `ridge and furrow' 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 banks. 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 historic landscape. It is usually now covered by hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. A watermill uses the gravitational force of water to turn a paddled wheel, the energy thus generated in the axle of the wheel enabling the operation of various kinds of machinery. The force of water is generally provided by the construction of a mill race, that is, an artificial channel or leat along which water flows from a stream. The flow of water from the main watercourse to the wheel is regulated by sluices. The spent water returns to the main stream via a tailrace. As a common feature of the rural and urban landscape, watermills and their associated water management systems played an important role in the development of the technology and economy and many of those retaining significant original features will merit protection. Despite being partly overlain by post-medieval buildings, a substantial proportion of the earthworks of Maulds Meaburn medieval settlement, its associated open field system and the mill race survive well. It is a good example of this class of monument in the Eden Valley local region and will add greatly to our understanding of the wider settlement and economy during the medieval period.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Maulds Meaburn
medieval settlement, together with part of its associated medieval open field
system and a mill race. It is in six separate areas of protection. Although
the date of the first settlement at Maulds Meaburn is unknown it is unlikely
to have pre-dated the late 11th century Norman conquest of the region.
Documentary sources indicate that Maud de Veteripont, wife of the lord of
Appleby, was given the estate of Meaburn in about 1174; however, the first
specific reference to Maulds Meaburn is in about 1210. The settlement remains
in occupation today and the areas of protection include those parts which were
abandoned as it contracted to its present size, but which are still
identifiable. The plan of the medieval settlement of Maulds Meaburn is of a
type familiar to this part of Cumbria in which two parallel lines of tofts or
houses with crofts or garden areas to the rear face onto a village green.
Behind the crofts were narrow back lanes and at Maulds Meaburn the north-south
axis of the village green is paralleled by back lanes to the west and east.
Beyond these back lanes lay the communal open fields where the crops were
grown, while to the south the village green broadened out into a driftway
leading south eastwards to the common land where the cattle would have been
grazed. Where not covered by post-medieval buildings the well-preserved
earthwork remains of the medieval settlement consist of abandoned tofts (house
plots), and associated earthwork enclosures (or crofts) which pre-date the
existing post-medieval field system.
On the western side of the village green the medieval building line lies
behind and upslope of the present structures. Here there is a well-preserved
area of tofts and crofts now separated by modern farm expansion into two
separate areas centred at approximately NY62401629 and NY62381654. Behind
these tofts and crofts is a back lane, and beyond this are a series of strip
fields containing well-preserved ridge and furrow running down to a small
stream which provided each close with a water supply. A short distance to the
north, in a third separate area centred at approximately NY62231691 on the
village's west side, is the demesne land of Meaburn Hall. A derelict lane
flanks the southern edge of this land while building foundations are visible
within an enclosure located in the south east corner of the demesne. On the
hillslope flanking the modern road are building platforms associated with
crofts or small enclosures. Behind these are traces of a back lane and
substantial traces of a former arable field system. The field system contains
rectangular enclosures and remains of ridge and furrow spreading westwards
across Howe Beck to an area of woodland and northwards to a lane leading to
On the east side of the village green, centred at approximately NY62571669 in
the field immediately south of Brackenslack Lane, there are further well-
preserved earthwork remain of tofts and crofts with a length of back lane to
the rear. Also on the east side of the green are the earthworks and buried
remains of a former mill race. This feature still carries water for part of
its length and runs northwards from a weir for approximately 100m before a
short diversion takes the water back to the river. From here the mill race
survives first as an earthwork for about 100m, then as a buried feature for
about another 150m, before becoming evident again as a short length of
earthwork immediately adjacent to the mill which has latterly converted into a
dwelling house. Earthworks to the west and north of the old mill and south of
Brackenslack Lane indicate the presence of below ground building remains
associated with the mill, the mill's tail race, and a second water channel. In
the field immediately north of Brackenslack Lane are further earthwork remains
of the tail race and the second water channel.
All modern walls, fenceposts, gateposts, telegraph poles and the surface of a
length of tarmac verge 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: 32844
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Roberts, B K, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in A Field Survey of Maulds Meaburn, Westmorland, , Vol. XCVI, (1996), 45-50
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