Medieval farmstead 330m north west of Water Knott


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021093

Date first listed: 22-Dec-2003


Ordnance survey map of Medieval farmstead 330m north west of Water Knott
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 19:50:57.


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

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cotherstone

National Grid Reference: NY 92296 17862


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 evolved gradually during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Northern Pennines sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area characterised from the Middle Ages by dispersed settlements, with some nucleations in more favoured areas. The sub-Province is formed by discontinuous high moorland landscapes; agricultural settlement has been episodic, in response to the economic fortunes of adjacent sub-Provinces. Other settlements have been associated with the extraction of stone and other minerals.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or principle) nucleated settlement focus such as a village, and the presence instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region, but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlement frequently include features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and the Northern and Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas. Where found, 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.

This medieval farmstead 330m north west of Water Knott and its associated banks and ditches survive well. They will contribute to an understanding of the development and diversity of medieval settlement and enclosure in the North Pennines.


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


The monument includes a medieval farmstead which lies on the south side of Balderhead Reservoir in Baldersdale. It occupies a ridge between two streams. The farmstead consists of the remains of two buildings and associated banks and ditches.

The most substantial of the banks and ditches runs from stream to stream across the ridge, separating most of the farmstead from the open moor to the west. The remains of both buildings lie east of this cross ridge boundary. The westernmost of the two buildings lies close to the boundary, approximately 250m NNW of Water Knott, and with its longer side at right-angles to it. The walls of the building survive as stony banks 1m wide and 0.2m high. The building is 29m long and 7m wide, with opposing entrances on the north and south sides. This building is interpreted as a medieval long house.

The second building lies a little further east. Its walls are visible as stony banks 2.5m wide and 0.4m high. In places these banks have a marked depression down their centre, representing a stone robbing trench. This eastern building is 21m long and 9m wide and has a probable entrance in its south side.

The cross ridge boundary runs approximately north-south on a slight curve. It lies under a drystone wall marked on the 1:10000 map for part of its length. It has a bank up to 5m wide and 1m high, with a ditch 5m wide and 0.2m deep on its west side. This substantial boundary is an example of the medieval boundaries characteristic of Baldersdale. The northern end of the cross ridge boundary has a complex of banks attached to it, but these have been partly eroded at the edge of the reservoir.

A small bank and ditched enclosure is attached to the cross ridge boundary on its western side, protruding onto the west side of the modern dry stone wall. This bank is smaller, being 2.5m wide and 0.2m high, with the ditch visible as a slight depression on the inside.

The drystone wall 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35951

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
White, F, Earthwork Survey of Site at Balderhead Reservoir, (1996), 8

End of official listing