Sheraton medieval settlement and open field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019911

Date first listed: 09-May-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of Sheraton medieval settlement and open field system
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Sheraton with Hulam

National Grid Reference: NZ 44177 34750


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. The East Durham Plateau local region is a limestone upland partly covered by glacial clays. The upper part of the plateau was almost devoid of settlement until the creation of the late 19th century mining communities, but ancient villages occupy the varied soils of the western sub-Provincial boundary, and can be found along the north-south routes just inland from the coast. Towards the southern edge and the Tees Valley, there has been significant settlement depopulation.

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 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 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 balks. 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 distincive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The medieval village of Sheraton is well-preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. The village is a good example of its type which, taken together with the remains of its open field system, will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval settlement in the region.


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


The monument includes around half the original extent of the medieval village of Sheraton, the remainder of which lies under the present day buildings in the village astride the A19. Sheraton lies on the Magnesian limestone plateau of East Durham, to the south of a small but steep knoll. The plan of the medieval settlement of Sheraton is of a type familiar to this part of Durham in which parallel lines of tofts or houses with crofts or garden areas to the rear face on to a village green. Beyond the tofts and crofts would lie the open fields where crops were grown. The tofts and crofts of Sheraton survive as grass-grown banks and ditches to the south of The Green. Fronting The Green are a number of discernable house platforms. These are sub-rectangular in form and range in size from 12 sq m to 5 sq m. To the south of these earthwork remains are the remnants of the village's open fields. These remnants survive as several furlongs of ridge and furrow. In the area between the site of the village earthworks and Bellows Burn stream, the distance between furrows is 6-8m, and they are 0.5m deep. Between many of the furlongs in this area run the hollow trackways which once would have given access from the village to the fields beyond. The most apparent example begins at the bottom of the slope next to the sewage works. This trackway, measuring 4m wide and 1m-1.5m deep, runs 50m north up the slope before turning sharply west for 38m, it then continues at a shallower depth and less discernible course north for 18m before turning west and continuing over earlier ridge and furrow. South of the Bellows Burn stream the land rises sharply before quickly flattening out, following which the furlongs of ridge and furrow continue. The ridge and furrow is of the same dimensions as that found to the north of the stream, except in the southernmost furlong running parallel to the southern wooden post and wire fence of the current field, where it measures 4m between furrows and 0.1m-0.2m deep. The village of Sheraton was once known as Shurveton. Prior to the late 12th century, a grant of land within Shroveton to Sherburn Hospital was confirmed by Bishop Pudsey. By the Boldon Book, written in the late 12th century, the vill was divided into two moieties, one held by John and the other by Thomas. During the bishopric of Bishop Hatfield, 1345-81, the moieties of Sheraton were held by the Lord de Neville and John de Aske. Lord de Neville's portion descended through Hogo de Billey, Roger Thornton, and other proprietors, to John Lord Lumley, who suffered a recovery thereof in the 15th year of Bishop Tunstall. The moiety of Aske descended to Richard Aske, who died in 1460, leaving John, his son and heir, under age. A forth part of Sheraton, with half that of Hulam, was alienated, in 1591, by James Casson and Jane his wife, to Henry Midford. Following this the property was much divided. All fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 34577

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fordyce, W, History of Durham Volume 2, (1857), 374
Fordyce, W, 'History of Durham' in History of Durham: Volume 2, (1857), 374
Title: Plans of Farms Source Date: 1790 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing