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Waitby medieval village, part of associated open field system, and site of an associated chapel

A Scheduled Monument in Waitby, Eden

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Latitude: 54.4696 / 54°28'10"N

Longitude: -2.388 / 2°23'16"W

OS Eastings: 374952.492

OS Northings: 508316.9695

OS Grid: NY749083

Mapcode National: GBR CJRR.TK

Mapcode Global: WH93F.9X3D

Entry Name: Waitby medieval village, part of associated open field system, and site of an associated chapel

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017866

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27804

County: Eden

Civil Parish: Waitby

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Kirkby Stephen with Mallerstang and Crosby Garrett with Soulby

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of the northern and
western parts of Waitby medieval village together with two separate areas of
its associated medieval open field system and the site of an associated
medieval chapel. It is protected in four separate areas. Although the date of
the earliest settlement at Waitby is unknown the village is first mentioned in
documentary sources in the 12th century AD. However, the proximity of numerous
other villages incorporating the element `-by' in the village name may imply
that Waitby was part of an earlier stratum of Scandinavian settlement strung
along the edges of the Asby plateau, with access to arable and meadow on the
loams of the lower drumlin country and good pasture on the higher limestone.
The village remains in occupation today; the areas of protection include those
parts of the medieval village which were abandoned but are still identifiable,
including the area of the main medieval settlement remains situated in the
fields to the north and west of Wharton House.
The plan of the medieval village is of a type familiar to this part of Cumbria
in which two parallel lines of houses face onto a broad rectangular village
green, with crofts, or garden areas to the rear. Behind the crofts were narrow
back lanes beyond which were the open fields where crops were grown. The
remains of the chapel lie a short distance to the east of the village.
Where not covered by post-medieval buildings, the well-preserved earthwork
remains of the medieval village consist of abandoned tofts, that is house
plots, and at least 11 associated distinct earthwork enclosures which
pre-date the existing and collapsed drystone wall field boundaries of the
post-medieval field system. Between some of these enclosure are traces of two
- possibly three - narrow tracks giving access to the back lane and communal
fields. Earthworks which continue the westward alignment of the front of the
post-medieval building of Wharton House represent the building line of
medieval houses and the former northern edge of the village green. These
earthworks now lie well back from the present central street of the modern
village and enable the forward encroachment of post-medieval development onto
the village green to be identified. At the rear of the crofts the back lane
contained two old wells together with a now largely silted pond. This water
supply must have been an important attraction of the site. Immediately to the
west, beyond the tarmac lane which was formerly a medieval back lane, there
are the earthworks of more medieval houses and crofts. West and north of these
features are the well-preserved earthworks of parts of the associated medieval
open field system. These consist of an earthwork headrow or turning point for
the oxen-drawn medieval ploughing team, a series of north east-south west
aligned lyncheted field strips extending westwards for approximately 250m, and
a series of well-preserved terraced field strips running for approximately
180m along the contours of the hillslope at right angles to the longer field
strips. To the south of this group of field strips, on ground between two
roads, there are further well-preserved earthwork remains of the medieval open
field system. These include, at the eastern end of this strip of land, an
ovoid enclosure subdivided into sub-rectangular smaller units which has been
interpreted as allotments or garden plots. Immediately adjacent are another
series of terraced field strips aligned NNE-SSW running for approximately
300m-350m along the contours of the hillslope. About 200m east of Wharton
House, situated on a local high point crossed by a modern wall, lie the
earthwork remains of Waitby medieval chapel which consist of a small flat
platform measuring approximately 25m by 20m.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern
field boundaries, all gateposts, and all telegraph poles, although the ground
beneath all 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 Cumbria-Solway sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, an area characterised by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads,
but with some larger nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally
favoured areas, established after the Norman Conquest. Traces of seasonal
settlements, or shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where
surrounding communities grazed their livestock during the summer months.
The Eden Valley local region is a rich agricultural lowland ringed by mountain
pastures. It is densely settled with small market towns, villages, hamlets and
isolated farmsteads. Medieval castles and monasteries, a multitude of
earthwork sites and the distinctive mix of Celtic, Scottish, English,
Scandinavian and Norman place-names all testify to the ancient and long
sustained occupation of this important region.

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 boundaries, 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 northern and western province of England
medieval villages occurred infrequently amid areas of otherwise dispersed
settlement and good examples are therefore proportionately infrequent. Thus
their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for
understanding rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman
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 oxen-teams produced
long, wide ridges, and where it survives the resultant `ridge and furrow' is
the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual
strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass banks. Furlongs were
in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow,
especially in its original context adjacent 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 or walls of subsequent field enclosure.
Despite being partly overlain by post-medieval settlement, a substantial
proportion of the medieval village of Waitby, the remains of its open field
system and the earthworks of its medieval chapel survive well. It is a good
example of this class of monument in the Eden Valley local region and will add
greatly to our understanding of the wider settlement and economy during the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Roberts, B K, 'Archaeological Journal' in Some Relict Landscapes in Westmorland: A Reconsideration, , Vol. 150, (1993), 437-40
Roberts, B K, 'Archaeological Journal' in Some Relict Landscapes in Westmorland: A Reconsideration, , Vol. 150, (1993), 437-40
Roberts, B K, 'Archaeological Journal' in Some Relict Landscapes in Westmorland: A Reconsideration, , Vol. 150, (1993), 437-40
Roberts, B K, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Five Westmorland Settlements: A Comparative Study, , Vol. 93, (1993), 134-5

Source: Historic England

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