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Medieval farmstead and regular aggregate field system, 805m west of Crapham Barn

A Scheduled Monument in East Dean and Friston, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7589 / 50°45'31"N

Longitude: 0.2223 / 0°13'20"E

OS Eastings: 556834.161829

OS Northings: 97827.062273

OS Grid: TV568978

Mapcode National: GBR MVC.90T

Mapcode Global: FRA C7C2.LFF

Entry Name: Medieval farmstead and regular aggregate field system, 805m west of Crapham Barn

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1967

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002244

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 344

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: East Dean and Friston

Built-Up Area: Friston

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: East Dean with Friston

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Details

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a 13th century farmstead and earlier regular aggregate field system surviving as earthworks and buried archaeological remains. It is situated on the slopes of Crapham Hill between Crapham Down and Eastdean Down. The remains of the farmstead are a short distance south-west from the summit of the hill but the field system is about 850m further west. The farmstead which is denoted by a large square enclosure surrounded by a low bank with an external ditch was partially excavated in 1955. The flint walls of a dwelling, rectangular in plan, were uncovered near the south-west corner of the enclosure. This was shown to post-date the enclosure, since the west wall cut into the bank. An open hearth and the likely remains of a domed oven were identified within the dwelling. The finds from the site included sherds of 13th century pottery, two small bronze buckles, animal bones and shells.
The field system on Eastdean Down, to the west, survives as a series of soil marks and lyncheted banks standing up to about 1.5m high. These are orientated north-west to south-east or north-east to south-west, together forming rectangular fields. These are thought to be the remains of a regular aggregate field system of probable Iron Age or Roman date. Several sherds of Iron Age, Romano-British and medieval pottery have been found.
The monument excludes the surface of modern trackways; all modern fences and fence posts; gates and gate posts. However the ground beneath all these features is included.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument, such as a nearby sheep pond, but are not included because they have not been formally assessed.

Sources: East Sussex HER MES548. NMR TV59NE3, TV59NE73, TV59NE82, TV59NE66. PastScape 469899, 470087, 470110, 470070.
Musson, R. 1955. A thirteenth-century dwelling at Bramble Bottom, Eastbourne. In Sussex Archaeological Collections 93, pp 157-70.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a characteristic feature of the medieval rural landscape. They occur throughout the country, the intensity of their distribution determined by local topography and the nature of the agricultural system prevalent within the region. In some areas of dispersed settlement they were the predominant settlement form; elsewhere they existed alongside, or were components of, more nucleated settlement patterns. The sites of many farmsteads have been occupied down to the present day but others were abandoned as a result of, for example, declining economic viability, enclosure or emparkment, or epidemics like the Black Death.
The medieval farmstead on Crapham Hill is likely to be associated with, and may have utilised and re-used, the nearby aggregate field system.
Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms, including earth banks and lynchets, and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system.
Despite some disturbance by agricultural activity, the medieval farmstead and regular aggregate field system, 805m west of Crapham Barn survive comparatively well. They will contain below-ground archaeological and environmental information relating to the farmstead, the field system, the people who farmed on Crapham Hill and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England

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