Medieval settlement remains immediately west of The Vicarage


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019187

Date first listed: 09-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement remains immediately west of The Vicarage
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This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 03:53:56.


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

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: West Overton

National Grid Reference: SU 13343 68001


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 East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern Province, an area in which settlement characteristics are shaped by strong contrasts in terrain. This is seen in the division between the chalk Downs, where chains of nucleated settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the Hampshire Basin, still dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the ancient New Forest, where nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the coastal strip extending into Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire some coastal areas and inland valleys are marked by high densities of dispersed settlement, much of it post-medieval. The Berkshire Downs and Marlborough Downs local region is characterised by extremely low densities of dispersed settlements on the downland, with villages and dense `strings' of hamlets and farmsteads in the well-watered valleys. Modern settlements are interspersed with the earthworks of abandoned medieval settlement sites.

Medieval settlement plans vary 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 paddocks. In the central provinces 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.

The abandoned medieval settlement remains at West Overton survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Many areas have remained undisturbed since their abandonment and the survival of archaeological deposits relating to their occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain important information about the dating, layout and economy of the settlement, and together with contemporary documents will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind its development, decline and the eventual abandonment of areas of the village.


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


The monument includes abandoned areas of the medieval settlement of East Overton situated within the modern village of West Overton on a ridge overlooking the flood plain of the River Kennet.

The areas of abandoned medieval settlement are visible as a series of building platforms, boundary banks and short lengths of both raised and sunken trackways situated either side of a NNW to SSE orientated hollow way originally forming one of the village's main thoroughfares. Up to ten faint rectangular building platforms within the area between the eastern side of the hollow way, the 16th century manor house and the church probably represent an early phase of abandonment. Their southern extent is defined by a curvilinear sunken trackway which joins the hollow way from the east and follows it south for 30m before branching off and continuing south west for 200m. A further six more clearly defined building platforms and large rectilinear enclosures adjacent to the western half of this trackway belong to a later phase of abandonment. This is corroborated by a map dated to 1773 which clearly shows buildings lining the western margins of both the hollow way and trackway.

Referred to in a Saxon charter dated AD 939 as Uferan Tune, by the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the manor of Ovretone or East Overton was held by the Bishop of Winchester. The field in which the monument is situated was named Ring Close in the Enclosure map of 1815, by which time the hollow way had been blocked by the construction of a field barn within its base. Subsequent expansion has joined together the former manorial settlements of East and West Overton to form a single village, known as West Overton.

All fences, horse jumps, feed troughs, electricity poles and stables 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: 30296

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fowler, P J, Fyfod Working Paper 26. The Historical Morphology of W.Overton, (1995)
Fowler, P J, Blackwell, I, The Land of Lettice Sweetapple, An English Countryside Explored, (1998), 86-87
RCHME, Shrunken Village Remains of East Overton, West Overton, (1975)
Title: Source Date: 1773 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Plate 14

End of official listing