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Medieval settlement and prehistoric field system 520m north east and 760m east of Snap Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Aldbourne, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4863 / 51°29'10"N

Longitude: -1.6792 / 1°40'45"W

OS Eastings: 422369.478078

OS Northings: 176422.817334

OS Grid: SU223764

Mapcode National: GBR 5XP.N9S

Mapcode Global: VHC19.VW4Z

Entry Name: Medieval settlement and prehistoric field system 520m north east and 760m east of Snap Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1954

Last Amended: 10 January 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017366

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30292

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Aldbourne

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes the remains
of the medieval settlement of Snap and an associated prehistoric field system
and is situated 520m north east and 760m east of Snap Farm on the lower slopes
of a dry chalk valley.

The area north east of Snap Farm comprises the main area of the medieval
settlement, which survives as a series of low rectangular building platforms,
rubble filled hollows and short lengths of trackway, and is defined along its
southern edge by a hollow way up to 1.5m in depth and 8m in width. The house
platforms include stone or brick wall foundations up to 1m in height, and
although many are known to have remained in use until the start of the 20th
century they are medieval in origin. Low parallel banks running northwards
from the settlement indicate a series of medieval strip enclosures or crofts
associated with the house platforms, whilst a series of similar banks formerly
existing to the south are now only visible as cropmarks.

Referred to in 1268 as Snape, documentary sources indicate that there were 19
poll tax payers at Snap in 1377, at which point the hamlet formed part of the
Duchy of Lancaster's Aldbourne estate and was one of the poorest settlements
in the county. A map of 1773 showed between five and ten houses whilst the
census of 1851 listed 41 inhabitants, a number which had declined to just two
by 1909. In 1913 the settlement was the subject of a legal dispute and a
debate in Parliament following its purchase by a local butcher who turned it
over to sheep grazing, forcing farm labourers to seek employment elsewhere and
leading to the abandonment of the cottages. Some of the buildings were
demolished by the Army during World War I when the site was used for gunnery
practice, although the main farm at the western end of the settlement remained
standing until the 1930s.

The area east of Snap Farm includes an east to west orientated terrace up to
2m in height representing a surviving part of a much larger prehistoric field
system which originally extended across the valley to the north east, but
which has now been ploughed out. The ploughed out sections of the field system
are not included in the scheduling. A second slight terrace 30m north of the
first also relates to the early field system and was reused in the post-
medieval period. The field system is bisected by a medieval raised trackway
which runs on a north east to south west axis for 200m. A map dated to 1773
shows that the trackway originally connected the settlements of Upper Upham,
Woodsend and Snap, but other early maps indicate that it had fallen out of use
within only 20 years.

All fence posts, feed troughs, horse jumps and the surfaces of all paths and
trackways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

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 East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern Province, an area in which
settlement characteristics are shaped by strong contrasts in terrain. This is
seen in the division between the chalk Downs, where chains of nucleated
settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the Hampshire Basin, still
dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the ancient New Forest, where
nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the coastal strip extending into
Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire some coastal areas and inland
valleys are marked by high densities of dispersed settlement, much of it
post-medieval. The Berkshire Downs and Marlborough Downs local region is
characterised by extremely low densities of dispersed settlements on the
downland, with villages and dense `strings' of hamlets and farmsteads in the
well-watered valleys. Modern settlements are interspersed with the earthworks
of abandoned medieval settlement sites.

Medieval settlement plans vary 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 paddocks. In the central provinces 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.

The remains of the abandoned medieval and later settlement at Snap survive
well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Many areas of the hamlet
have remained undisturbed since their abandonment and the survival of
archaeological deposits relating to their occupation and use is likely to be
good. These deposits will contain information about the dating, layout and
economy of the settlement, and together with contemporary documents relating
to the hamlet, will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms
behind its development, decline and eventual abandonment. The associated
prehistoric field system also provides an opportunity to understand the
development and use of the area from a much earlier period, prior to written

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sewell, A, Prehistory of the Aldbourne Basin, (1985), p.71
Sewell, A, Prehistory of the Aldbourne Basin, (1988), p.71
Weaver-Smith, M, Snap - A Modern Example of Depopulation, (1958), p.386-9
Weaver-Smith, M, Snap - A Modern Example of Depopulation, (1958), p.386-9
Holyoak, V.M., Sketch Plan Showing SM 30292/02, (1999)
Title: Andrews and Durys Map of Wiltshire
Source Date: 1773

Title: Ordnance Survey 6" Series - Wiltshire XXIII SE
Source Date:

Title: SU 27 NW 28
Source Date:

Wiltshire County Council, 1:10000, (1981)
Wiltshire County Council, SU 27 NW 451,
Wiltshire County Council, SU 27 NW 666 - Field System East of Woodsend,

Source: Historic England

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