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Medieval settlement and part of field system at Castletown Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Shocklach Oviatt and District, Cheshire West and Chester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0552 / 53°3'18"N

Longitude: -2.8383 / 2°50'17"W

OS Eastings: 343910.43865

OS Northings: 351213.485348

OS Grid: SJ439512

Mapcode National: GBR 7D.CF33

Mapcode Global: WH891.CGPN

Entry Name: Medieval settlement and part of field system at Castletown Farm

Scheduled Date: 21 May 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016588

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30391

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Shocklach Oviatt and District

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Tilston St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes the house platforms (tofts) and the small enclosures
(crofts) of a medieval settlement situated to the north and south of
Castletown Farm. It is in two areas of protection. In the fields to the east
of the settlement are substantial remains of the cultivation strips known as
ridge and furrow.
The settlement was associated with a motte and bailey castle, Shocklach Castle
built c.1100, and a later moated site 500m to the west. A church of Norman
date stands at Church Shocklach 600m to the south.
The remains of the settlement extend across the boundary between the present
parishes of Grafton and Caldecott and consist of the tofts for at least three
houses on the southern side of the farm and three or four tofts and crofts to
the north. Originally these two areas of settlement would have been linked
but the later construction of Castletown Farm has divided the two areas and
obscured evidence of the settlement beneath it.
The well-preserved blocks of earthwork ridge and furrow to the east with
their headlands represent part of the open fields cultivated by the villagers
during the medieval period.
All post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
woodland.

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 when 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 boudaries, and as part of the manorial system most
villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as
visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of
England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life and their
archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding
about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into
strips, known as lands, which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by teams of oxen
produced long wide ridges, and the resultant 'ridge and furrow' where it
survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system.
Individual strips were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by
terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass balks.
Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge
and furrow, especially in its original context next to village earthworks, is
both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a
distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is
usually now covered by the hedges and walls of later field enclosure.
The earthwork remains of the village at Castletown Farm together with
well-defined ridge and furrow furlongs to the east survive well. Their close
association with the remains of Shocklach Castle and the Norman church at
Church Shocklach form an historic surviving landscape of the medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Williams, S, West Cheshire from the Air, (1997), 42-43

Source: Historic England

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