Belsay Awakes: Historic England Contribution Landscape Survey Report

Author(s): Matthew Oakey

This report covers a landscape analysis of Belsay and its wider setting from aerial photographs and lidar. This work was part of ‘Belsay Awakes’, an English Heritage Trust project which aims to enhance the presentation and interpretation of Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland. As part of this project Historic England carried out a multidisciplinary programme of research into the site and its broader context. The aerial mapping covered an area of 26sq km which encompassed the surrounding parkland and the historic township of Belsay. The research uncovered a rich archaeological landscape with features ranging in date from the Bronze Age to the Second World War. Numerous prehistoric or Roman enclosures and settlements were mapped, some of which are new to the archaeological record. Extensive medieval open fields of ridge and furrow survive, relating to villages such as Belsay and Newham. The physical evidence for the transition from a village based settlement pattern to an enclosed landscape of dispersed farmsteads is seen as post medieval sod-cast boundary systems. Analysis of lidar data revealed traces of the medieval park pale which once enclosed Belsay deer park. The Belsay landscape we see today has been heavily shaped by estate management. Field systems and farmstead character provide a rich source of information, showing the influence of the estate on the farming landscape. Physical evidence, alongside contemporary documents, records the impact of intense technological change in farming practice and industrial land use during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Report Number:
Research Department Reports


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