Medieval settlement and open field system at Old Wingate


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019912

Date first listed: 07-Aug-2001


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and open field system at Old Wingate
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This copy shows the entry on 09-Dec-2018 at 22:30:07.


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

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wheatley Hill

National Grid Reference: NZ 37539 37572


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 trackways, platforms on which houses stood and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small 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 distinct 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 distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The medieval village at Old Wingate 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 of medieval settlement in the region.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Old Wingate medieval village, together with part of its associated medieval open field system. Old Wingate lies on the magnesian limestone plateau of East Durham. The settlement remains in occupation today and the area of protection includes those parts which were abandoned as it contracted to its present size, but which are still evident today. The plan of the medieval settlement of Old Wingate is of a type familiar to this part of County Durham in which parallel lines of tofts or houses with crofts or garden areas to the rear face on to a village green. The green extends east-west through the field to the south of the present farm. Beyond the tofts and crofts would lie the communal open fields where the crops were grown. The crofts and tofts at Old Wingate survive as visible earthworks up to 0.4m high, and have little obvious consistency in plot width. In places the stone footings of the buildings within the tofts remain visible. These tofts are arranged either side of a central green, measuring 12m wide. To the west of the settlement is a large curvilinear bank that separates the village from the ridge and furrow of the open fields beyond. The three ridges immediately to the west of the bank measure 8m wide, beyond this the ridges are uniformly 4m wide. Little is known about the history of this village. All fencing and the electricity pylons 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: 34578

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing