Anglo-Saxon cemetery and medieval manorial centre including fishponds and part of the open field system adjacent to St Peter's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021088

Date first listed: 14-Jan-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Aug-2003


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Saxon cemetery and medieval manorial centre including fishponds and part of the open field system adjacent to St Peter's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Bradford (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Addingham

National Grid Reference: SE 08581 49617


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

Reasons for Designation

Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation. Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods, including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection.

Manorial centres were important foci of medieval rural life. Local agricultural and village life was normally closely regulated by the Lord of the Manor and thus the inhabitants of these sites had a central interest in many aspects of rural life. Manorial sites could take many forms but the key focus was the manor house which was often an elaborate building reflecting the importance of the manorial lord. In addition to the manor house the complex would have included stables and other buildings, including store rooms for agricultural and other produce. Dovecotes used to keep doves as a food source were also common as were fishponds. A chapel also existed at many sites either within a room of the main manorial building or as a separate building. 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 baulks. 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 the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The wealthier members of the village community, in addition to regulating the communal agricultural system, often maintained fishponds for their own private supply of fish. Both fishponds and dovecotes were an expression of wealth and status during the medieval period and later and are usually attached to monastic institutions or the main manorial complex.

The building of fishponds began in the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. The difficulty of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Most fishponds were located close to villages, manors or monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Archaeologically fishponds are important for their association with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.

The earthwork and buried remains of the manorial complex and Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Addingham are well-preserved and retain significant archaeological remains. The earthworks, excavations and documentation combine to provide an historical context and picture of the layout of the settlement. As a whole, the monument will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the continuity and change in the use of Addingham as a settlement and its position in the wider landscape.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of an Anglo Saxon cemetery and the earthwork and buried remains of the medieval manorial centre of Addingham. The latter includes fishponds and part of the associated open field system. The monument is situated on a gravel ridge overlooking the River Wharfe but extends to the south on gently sloping ground towards Town Beck.

Addingham is one of few places in West Yorkshire to have been documented before the Norman Conquest. It is recorded that Addingham was the westernmost part of an Anglo-Saxon estate, centred on Otley, which belonged to the Archbishops of York. In the 11th century Symeon of Durham records how Archbishop Wulfhere of York sought refuge there in AD867. By the end of the tenth century the Archbishop was dispossessed of Addingham and several other vills in the Otley estate. Pre-Conquest activity appears to have focussed in the area now occupied by St Peter's Church. The church is thought to have had Anglo-Saxon origins. It certainly contains carved cross shafts of this date. The settlement to which Wulfhere fled probably also lay close to the church. By 1066 Addingham was divided between two separate estates which in 1086, were attributed to Bolton in Cravescrie and Burghshire. This division of Addingham continued throughout the Middle Ages but both halves of the vill belonged to a single mesne lord William Vavasour in 1166. The Vavasours continued to hold manorial rights until they sold the lordship of the manor in 1714.

The earliest evidence of occupation of the site comes from an excavation carried out in 1971 across the eastern slopes of the gravel ridge. The excavation identified a recut asymmetrical ditch which produced pottery dating from the 12th to the 16th centuries. It is thought that the ditch was largely infilled by the 15th century but may originally have been cut as early as the pre-Roman Iron Age as a defensive work. The later recut is interpreted as a boundary feature. It would appear from this evidence that the gravel ridge currently occupied by the church and Old Rectory has been the focus of occupation for at least 2500 years.

The buried and earthwork remains of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery are situated to the west of the church in a small enclosure now containing the church hall, and in the field further to the west. Burials were first discovered in 1869, to the east of the church hall enclosure, when the churchyard was extended. The Anglo-Saxon cemetery was partly excavated during 1989 and 1990 in advance of an extension to the church hall, during which a total of 55 graves were investigated recovering the remains of approximately 80 individuals. On the evidence of radiocarbon analysis these can be dated to the eighth to tenth centuries. Immediately west of the excavated part of the cemetery a series of parallel linear features were identified as a result of geophysical survey and are thought to represent the buried remains of more grave cuts. The most visible earthwork is a curvilinear bank which runs roughly east to west, just south of the churchyard wall, and north to south through the western edge of the current churchyard. Only the section of the bank lying to the south of the churchyard wall is included in the monument. A 19th century plan for the purchase of part of Church Orchard, a field which lies to the west of the churchyard, shows the pre-existing west wall of the burial ground following the course of the earthwork bank. This indicates that the pre-1869 burial ground was oval in shape. Such a shape is characteristic of early ecclesiastical sites. St Peter's Church is largely a 15th century structure re-cased in the 18th century although it does contain fragments of Norman chevron-decorated stonework. Part of a cross shaft thought to be 10th century in date was found in the field to the south of the churchyard in the 1940s. The church hall and part of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery are situated in the field known as Church Orchard. The name Orchard was already attached to this piece of ground in 1622 when it was conveyed in the form of two closes to Thomas Hardwicke of Addingham. A survey of the manor in 1612 names the Hall Orchards among the demesne lands and a lease drawn up in 1547 includes the Lords Orchards. It is thought that the present Church Orchard is the site of the medieval manorial orchards, the name change reflecting a change in ownership. Documentary sources indicate that the manorial homestead was also in this field. An account of Addingham written by Henry Johnson in 1669 records that the `Maner house stood neer the church, upon Wharfe Brow, and the land being worne away by the river the Hall fell, so that there is nothing now remaining of it.' A map of 1600 appears to show a circular plan dovecote lying approximately 90m west of the church. Dovecotes are often situated close to manor houses.

The site of the manor house and associated structures survive as a series of earthwork and buried remains to the east, south and west of St Peter's Church and churchyard. The core of the present village lies approximately 800m further to the west. In the north east corner of the monument a series of gullies and ditches were identified as a result of a geophysical survey and are thought to represent the buried remains of the manor house. This may be substantiated by the survival of a series of earthworks which lie either side of the approach track to the church and church hall. These survive to a height of approximately 0.5m and are interpreted as a series of fishponds. Fishponds are often associated with high status residences, including manor houses. To the east of the fishponds are the remains of part of the medieval open field system. This is visible as part of one furlong (a group of lands or cultivation strips) marked by a headland. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow and survive to a height of approximately 0.35m. The cemetery excavations also uncovered a major linear ditch which bisected the excavated area. The ditch was constructed at right angles to the River Wharf and was at its base 1.3m below the present ground level and 2.6m wide. The construction of the ditch disturbed 18 graves. Pottery from the ditch dates it to between the 12th and 15th centuries. The ditch is interpreted as a boundary marker and cut through a deposit which sealed the graves below. The formation of this deposit post-dates the last use of the cemetery and pre-dates the later medieval features. It probably represents the formation of a thin topsoil sometime during the tenth to thirteenth centuries. A corn drying kiln was also discovered with evidence of industrial or processing activity. It is unclear when the manorial centre fell out of use but the river erosion recorded in the late 17th century implies the site was abandoned before this time.

The church hall, all modern field boundaries, track surfaces and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 29996

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, , Addingham Church Hall West Yorkshire, (1990), 1-7
West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, , Addingham Church Hall West Yorkshire, (1990), 1-4
Adams, M, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Excavation of a pre-conquest cemetery at Addingham West Yorkshie, , Vol. 40, (1996), 151-183

End of official listing