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Deserted medieval village of West Hartburn, 100m north-east of Foster House

A Scheduled Monument in Middleton St George, Darlington

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Latitude: 54.521 / 54°31'15"N

Longitude: -1.4484 / 1°26'54"W

OS Eastings: 435804.197888

OS Northings: 514103.522432

OS Grid: NZ358141

Mapcode National: GBR LJB5.74

Mapcode Global: WHD72.QMHJ

Entry Name: Deserted medieval village of West Hartburn, 100m north-east of Foster House

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1970

Last Amended: 11 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011257

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20874

County: Darlington

Civil Parish: Middleton St George

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Middleton St George

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes the abandoned remains of the medieval village of West
Hartburn. The remains are visible as low, well preserved earthworks situated
on gently sloping ground. The central feature of the village is a long narrow
green running south-west to north-east adjacent to and parallel to the modern
Mill Lane. This green is bounded on its south side by a well defined hollow
way, also on a south-west to north-east axis. A row of house platforms, on
which medieval buildings would have stood, fronts this hollow way. A series of
enclosures of different sizes and shapes lies immediately behind the house
platforms; these are the remains of the gardens, paddocks and enclosures
associated with the buildings. Several of these houses and their associated
yards were excavated in the 1960s and were shown to be of typical medieval
long house type, that is including both human and animal housing under the
same roof.
Originally a similar road and a row of houses lay to the north-west of Mill
Lane fronting the north-west side of the green. This row of houses is no
longer visible and is not included in the scheduling.
The village was originally surrounded by cultivated fields, evidence of which
still survives to the west and south of the extant remains in the form of
ridge and furrow fossilised in the landscape. A small area of reasonably well
preserved ridge and furrow to the immediate south-west of the settlement is
included in the scheduling as is the adjacent hollow way which originally
provided access from the village to the fields on this side. Elsewhere the
ridge and furrow is less well preserved and is therefore not included in the
scheduling. A pond, now dry, situated at the eastern end of the village, is
associated with the remains of other ponds immediately to the north. These lie
just above the Goosepool Beck and are the remains of a set of medieval
fishponds linked by water channels. The largest of these ponds measures 40m by
20m. When operational the ponds would have yielded a constant supply of food.
All fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is

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.

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.

Although they form only part of the original village, the remains at west
Hartburn survive well and have been partly documented by excavation. This
type of two-row village with central green is typical of north-eastern
England. Further archaeological remains will survive extensively and well.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pallister, A, Wrathmell, S, 'Medieval Rural Settlement in North-East England' in The DMV of West Hartburn, 3rd Rep. Excavation of site D..., (1990)
Still, L, Palliser, A, 'Archaeology Aeliana 4th serl 42, 187-206' in The Excavation Of One House Site In The Deserted Village Of Wesn, (1964)
Still, L, Pallister, A, 'Archaeology Aeliana 4th ser. 45, 139-148' in West Hartburn 1965. Site C, (1965)
1:2500, RCAHME, West Hartburn Deserted Medieval Village, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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