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Deserted medieval village, a bowl barrow, and part of a prehistoric field system opposite Lake House in Lake Bottom

A Scheduled Monument in Wilsford cum Lake, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1483 / 51°8'53"N

Longitude: -1.8134 / 1°48'48"W

OS Eastings: 413150.311407

OS Northings: 138800.383568

OS Grid: SU131388

Mapcode National: GBR 507.Y3H

Mapcode Global: VHB5J.JD6K

Entry Name: Deserted medieval village, a bowl barrow, and part of a prehistoric field system opposite Lake House in Lake Bottom

Scheduled Date: 3 March 1927

Last Amended: 8 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010879

English Heritage Legacy ID: 10362

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Wilsford cum Lake

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Woodford Valley with Archers Gate

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a deserted medieval village situated in Lake Bottom
opposite Lake House, together with a bowl barrow situated at the top of the
slope above the village. The monument occupies the valley bottom and a steep,
north-facing slope overlooking it.
Lake is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but is probably
represented as one of the assessments for Wilsford, both of one hide before
the Conquest. It is probable that the holding came into the hands of the Earl
of Salisbury in the early 12th century and remained in the family for 200
The monument is a triangular area c.500m east-west by 200m north-south,
visible on the flat ground adjacent to the Springbottom Farm track and on the
steep slope above it as a group of slight earthworks generally 0.25m to 1m
high, with downcut areas of similar proportions. The monument was the subject
of a measured survey in 1984, from which it is known that the structure of the
village represented by these earthworks is aligned with the topography of
Lake Bottom and therefore parallel to the farm track, and has the overall form
of a village consisting of rows of properties either side of a single street.
The element adjacent to the farm track is a series of rectilinear earthworks
275m long by 35m wide in overall size, largely composed of low banks,
platforms and hollows which are interpreted as the remains of houses,
gardens and other features which constitute the properties of the village. On
the southern edge of the properties is a downcut earthwork interpreted as the
high street of the village. It is 350m long and ranges from 3m to 8m in width
and is 0.5m to 1m deep. The eastern 100m section is up to 15m wide, having
been deepened and widened to form a lake during the conversion of the area to
parkland, probably in the early 17th century.
South of the street is a second series of earthworks representing properties
which occupy most of the remaining flat ground between the street and the foot
of the slope. These extend for 450m along the valley, almost the full length
of the monument, and are 25m to 30m wide. East of the village centre these
earthworks run to the base of the slope. West of the centre is a large
trapezoidal enclosure 195m long and between 60m and 90m wide divided into
three rectangular plots. Slight indications of ridging indicate that the
southern sectors of these plots were cultivated as gardens or fields. The
northern sectors of each plot are occcupied by earthworks representing
properties which front onto the village street.
The southern edge of the trapezoidal enclosure is defined by a terrace c.5m
wide cut into the base of the slope, and interpreted as a field way. South of
this and cut into the hillside is a further set of scarps and hollows which
may represent either quarrying or squatter activity on the southern margin of
the village.
The measured survey also revealed that a number of earthworks have been
constructed up the hillside. On the slope above the eastern half of the
village are several slight banks orientated north west-south east, interpreted
as the remains of a prehistoric field system. Above the steeper part of the
valley side a number of lynchets are visible as slight earthworks 0.5m-1m
high, following the contour. A group of hollow ways have their origin at the
centre of the village, climb the steep part of the slope, divide and turn east
and west along it, with one hollow way crossing the lynchets and extending to
the southern border of the monument. There are indications that the field
system represented by the lynchets had several alterations to its layout.
The monument also includes a bowl barrow located 200m south west of Lake
House. The barrow mound has a conical profile and stands 4.75m high and is 26m
in diameter, surrounded by a ditch 4m wide and c.0.7m deep, from which
material was quarried during its construction. There are indications of an
outer bank, surviving as a slight earthwork c.4m wide and giving the barrow an
overall diameter of 42m. The profile of the mound displays a distinctly
stepped line, the result of the construction of a second conical mound on top
of the original rounded mound. This alteration may be associated with the
gentrification of the area, and was intended to provide a prospect mound from
which to view Lake House and its parkland.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets,
paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community
devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural
landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages
provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal
point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each
parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly
during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval
villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but
often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as
enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment
these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain
well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and
long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important
information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming
economy between the regions and through time.

The deserted medieval village opposite Lake House survives well, and will
contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the
monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Village earthworks as
extensive and detailed as this example are rare on the Wessex chalkland
generally and in the Stonehenge area in particular.
Also within this monument is a section of prehistoric field system, examples
of which rarely survive in areas of cultivated downland such as this, and a
bowl barrow.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. They were
constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, normally ditched, which covered
single or multiple burials. Often superficially similar, although differing
widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a variety of
burial practices. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are
sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. There
are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally and around 260 in
the Stonehenge area.
A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for
ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.
Two of the best known and the earliest recognised areas are around Avebury and
Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site.
The area of chalk downland which surrounds Stonehenge contains one of the
densest and most varied groups of Neolithic and Bronze Age field monuments in
Britain. Included within the area are Stonehenge itself, the Stonehenge
cursus, the Durrington Walls henge, and a variety of burial monuments, many
grouped into cemeteries.
The area has been the subject of archaeological research since the 18th
century when Stukeley recorded many of the monuments and partially excavated a
number of the burial mounds. More recently, the collection of artefacts from
the surfaces of ploughed fields has supplemented the evidence for ritual and
burial by revealing the intensity of contemporary settlement and land-use. In
view of the importance of the area, all ceremonial and sepulchral monuments of
this period which retain significant archaeological remains are identified as
nationally important.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 199
RCHME, Lake DMV measured survey, (1984)
SU13NW450, Wiltshire Sites and Monuments Record, (1982)

Source: Historic England

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