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Medieval and post-medieval settlement remains and associated field system immediately east of Overton Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Malpas, Cheshire West and Chester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0287 / 53°1'43"N

Longitude: -2.7852 / 2°47'6"W

OS Eastings: 347435.958465

OS Northings: 348221.780546

OS Grid: SJ474482

Mapcode National: GBR 7G.F7YR

Mapcode Global: WH898.54ZG

Entry Name: Medieval and post-medieval settlement remains and associated field system immediately east of Overton Hall

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016589

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30392

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Malpas

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Malpas St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes a hamlet with associated earthwork remains of ridge and
furrow cultivation immediately east of Overton Hall. The settlement was listed
in the Domesday Book and lies next to the 12th or 13th century moated site of
Overton Hall.
The earthworks indicate platforms for five houses or farm buildings (tofts),
two hollow ways and extensive ridge and furrow cultivation remains. In
addition there is evidence for four more buildings which were recorded on the
1840 tithe award maps. The site was therefore in occupation up to the
mid-19th century.
The two hollow ways run into the site from the north and converge in the
centre to form a single hollow way which runs south to the brook on the
southern side of the site. Here there was probably a bridge or ford since the
track can be traced up to a gap in the bank which defines the northern side of
a green lane which runs along the southern edge of the area. At the point
where the hollow ways converge there are the tofts for two or three houses. On
the hillslope 150m to the north east, above this point, are further tofts and
small enclosures (crofts). In the triangle formed by the hollow ways, aerial
photography has revealed ridge and furrow cultivation, and there is further
evidence of this form of agriculture to the west and north of this triangle.
Two distinct plough headlands form well-defined ridges running north-south in
the northern part of the area of protection and these have been cut by the
concrete road which runs through the site to the hall. In the field to the
north of this road there are the remains of ridge and furrow which are not
sufficiently well-preserved to be included in the scheduling.
On the eastern fringe of the site there are further remains which are not
well-defined and are probably old field boundaries and a house platform which
appears on the 1840 tithe award maps. In the south western corner of the site
is a modern pipe bridge, covered by earth to allow cattle to cross to the
grazing in the area to the south of the hall. This area has been shown to
retain remains of ridge and furrow.
Post and wire fences along the eastern and northern edges of the monument and
the modern pipe bridge are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath 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.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an
area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region,
but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include
roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings
such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas where
stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may still be
clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently include features
such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement
are found in both the South Eastern and Northern and Western Provinces of
England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas. Where found,
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.
The remains of the hamlet of Overton with its well defined hollow ways, tofts
and crofts and extensive surviving ridge and furrow open field system form an
important group of earthworks. Waterlogged deposits close to the brook will
also preserve organic evidence for cultivated plants and possible timber
structures connected with the period of occupation of the settlement.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Morgan, P (ed), The Domesday Book, (1978), 264c
Williams, S R, West Cheshire from the Air, (1996), 52

Source: Historic England

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