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
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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
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
All fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is
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:
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