Part of Helsington medieval village immediately west of Briggs House Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021146

Date first listed: 12-Nov-2003


Ordnance survey map of Part of Helsington medieval village immediately west of Briggs House Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 20:08:03.


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

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland (District Authority)

Parish: Helsington

National Grid Reference: SD 49501 89405


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 Lancashire Lowlands sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area extending from the moorlands of the western Pennines to the coastal plain with its villages and hamlets. The southern part of the sub-Province supports high densities of dispersed settlements, but there are much lower densities further north, in the Craven Lowlands, the Ribble Valley and the areas around Morecambe Bay. In the Middle Ages the larger, lowland settlements were supported by `core' arable lands, communally cultivated, with enclosed fields around them. The uplands contained sheep and cattle farms and seasonally occupied `shieling' settlements. Extending beyond the boundaries of Lancashire, this southern sector of Cumbria lacks the high mountains of the Lake District. Framed by a series of strong ridges, trending north to south, the valleys of Duddon, Crake, Leven and Kent result in rolling valley and flatter landscapes, with more wood than further north. These give way, often abruptly, to the rough pastures of silted estuaries and the marginal sands of the shallow seas. The scatter of towns and villages is probably largely post-Norman, imposed by conquerors over earlier levels of scattered farmsteads and hamlets. As late as the year 685 it was possible for the monks of Lindisfarne to receive a grant of `Cartmel, with all the Britons belonging to it', emphasising the Celtic roots of the cultural landscapes of this region.

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 where 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 include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the northern and western province of England medieval villages occurred infrequently amid areas of otherwise dispersed medieval settlement and good examples are therefore proportionally infrequent. Thus their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for understanding rural life in the five centuries or more following the Norman Conquest.

Despite being partly overlain by post-medieval building, a substantial part of Helsington medieval village survives well. It is a good example of this class of monument in the Lancashire Lowlands sub-province and will add greatly to our understanding of the wider settlement and economy during the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of part of Helsington medieval village located immediately west of Briggs House Farm. Although the date of the first settlement at Helsington is unknown the village is unlikely to have pre-dated the Norman Conquest of the region. The site of an apparently abandoned structure is shown on the Corn Rent Map of 1835 in the field to the west of what is now Briggs House Farm. The village of Helsington remains in occupation today and the protected area includes part of the village which was abandoned but is still identifiable as having formed part of the medieval village.

In the irregularly-shaped field centred at SD49518939 there are a series of earthworks visible both as surface features and on aerial photographs. These include the well-defined earthworks of a two-roomed building measuring 18m north-south by 6m east-west. There are entrances into each of the two rooms from the east and traces of a doorway between the two rooms. A doorway in the south wall of the building's south room gives access into a well-defined enclosure measuring about 18 sq m which has been terraced into the hillside on its western side and has an entrance at its south western corner. On the eastern side of the building and its attached enclosure there are the faint earthworks of a posible garden wall running east from close to the north east corner of the building then returning to the south east corner of the square enclosure. There appears to be an entrance at the north east corner of this garden wall. Traces of another wall or bank can be seen running north for a short distance from the northern wall of the building. On rising ground a short distance to the south west are traces of two more rectangular enclosures and south of this there are traces of what appears to be either one large irregularly-shaped enclosure or two adjacent sub-rectangular enclosures.

All modern walls, gateposts, fences, fenceposts, telegraph poles and an obsolete water tank are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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: 35019

Legacy System: RSM


In Cumbria SMR No. 4790, Corn Rent, (1835)

End of official listing