Richardson medieval settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019188

Date first listed: 09-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Richardson medieval settlement
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Jan-2019 at 09:38:21.


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

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Berwick Bassett

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Winterbourne Bassett

National Grid Reference: SU 09780 74191


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 remains of the abandoned Richardson medieval settlement 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 relating to the hamlet, will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind its development, decline and eventual abandonment.


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


The monument includes the remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of Richardson situated immediately east of Richardson Cottage on the flood plain of the River Kennet.

The medieval settlement survives as a series of low rectangular building platforms, enclosures and trackways located either side of an east to west orientated hollow way which led to a fording point across the river. This represented the main thoroughfare through the settlement and remained in use as late as 1773, before being abandoned by 1844 and subsequently adapted for use as an open field drain. The building platforms adjacent to the hollow way measure between 20m and 50m in width and include stone or brick wall foundations up to 0.3m in height, visible as low banks. In most cases the platforms have enclosures adjacent to them and these probably represent gardens or cultivation plots. Additional evidence of agriculture survives on the north eastern side of the settlement where there is a small area representing medieval ridge and furrow cultivation. A series of terraces and broad parallel channels on the north western side of the hollow way belong to an 18th century formal garden, the country house associated with which was demolished in the 19th century having replaced an earlier manorial site.

The settlement was referred to in 1242 as Ricardestone, and in 1377 there were 31 poll tax payers within the hamlet, the overlordship of which descended with the earldom of Hereford until the death of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex in 1383. By 1545 the settlement had largely been abandoned with only two inhabitants eligible for taxation, and from 1614 the manor of Richardson descended with that of Winterbourne Bassett. In the late 17th century the manor was divided between Upper and Lower Richardson Farms, the part of Lower Richardson Farm which included the abandoned settlement becoming a part of Rabson Farm from about 1780 onwards.

All bridges, fences and feed troughs 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: 30297

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire
The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire
AER 1862,
English Heritage, NMR SU 07 SE 23,
Title: Source Date: 1773 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Plate 14
Wiltshire County Council, SU 07 SE 454,

End of official listing