Medieval settlement, cultivation remains and boundary 550m north west of Upham Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020131

Date first listed: 17-Apr-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Nov-2001


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement, cultivation remains and boundary 550m north west of Upham Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Aldbourne

National Grid Reference: SU 22566 77515


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 Upper Upham survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Many areas have remained undisturbed since abandonment and the survival of archaeological deposits relating to occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain information about the dating, layout and economy of the settlement, and together with contemporary documents relating to the village, will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind its development, decline and eventual abandonment. The associated prehistoric and Romano- British field systems and deposits related to them will provide an opportunity to understand the development and use of the area over a much longer period.


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


The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Upham and an associated boundary and cultivation remains, situated across the summit and northern slopes of Upham Down, a chalk scarp. The main area of the medieval settlement is defined by a hollow way approximately 200m in length which gradually curves from an east to west axis through to the north west and originally marked the main thoroughfare through the hamlet. The northern and south eastern sides of the hollow way are lined by a series of small enclosures, low platforms and short lengths of trackway which mark the location of buildings and their associated features. Linear boundaries defining a series of long rectangular enclosures abut the south western side of the hollow way and are evidence of medieval agriculture, as is a small area of ridge and furrow cultivation to the west, the remainder of which has been levelled by ploughing and is not included in the scheduling. The first documentary reference to the settlement is contained in an Anglo- Saxon charter dated to AD 955 which names it as Upammere, corrupted to Upham by 1201. In around 1249 Sir William Longespee gave Upper Upham manor to Lacock Abbey and the manor remained in the abbey's possession until the Dissolution when it was sold by the Crown to John Goddard. Documentary sources suggest that the settlement associated with the medieval manorial site at Upper Upham was never substantial. In 1291 the manor was valued at 1 pound 10 shillings and in 1377 there were just 40 poll tax payers in Upper Upham, making it one of the smallest settlements in Selkley Hundred. By 1476 Upper Upham was described as `at farm', suggesting that it had been largely depopulated by this point and in 1599 Richard Goddard built Upper Upham House to the south east of the hollow way. The construction of the new manor house appears to have radically changed the layout of the settlement and led finally to the abandonment of the hollow way as a thoroughfare. The hollow way is not marked on a map dated to 1773 and a new east to west trackway had evidently been built to the south, the course of which is still followed by the modern road. In the 19th century a number of Romano-British and Iron Age brooches, sherds of pottery and the foundations of a structure allegedly containing a hypocaust (an under-floor heating system associated with Roman villas and bath houses) were found on Upham Down. Although their precise find spots can no longer be identified, these suggest that the hill was already the focus for occupation long before the first documentary reference to a settlement. Extensive prehistoric or Romano-British field systems on the downs around Upper Upham have been levelled by ploughing but are clearly visible as soilmarks. A low earthwork bank running from the north western end of the hollow way continues downslope for 250m, curves eastwards for 500m along the bottom of the down before turning abruptly south and running upslope for a further 100m. Its orientation in relation to the soilmark field boundaries around it suggests that it was originally part of the earlier field system but was enhanced and reused as a stock boundary in the medieval period. A trackway following its western side probably represented a continuation of the hollow way and may therefore have been medieval. All fences, gates and feeding 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: 33953

Legacy System: RSM


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Antiquity No. SU 27 NW 22, (1973)

End of official listing