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Smardale South Demesne medieval village

A Scheduled Monument in Waitby, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4598 / 54°27'35"N

Longitude: -2.4171 / 2°25'1"W

OS Eastings: 373057.29505

OS Northings: 507232.627502

OS Grid: NY730072

Mapcode National: GBR CJKW.H2

Mapcode Global: WH93L.V55D

Entry Name: Smardale South Demesne medieval village

Scheduled Date: 29 September 1949

Last Amended: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018244

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27817

County: Cumbria

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 Smardale South
Demesne medieval village, which is located on the top of a limestone ridge
east of Scandal Beck 1.2km south west of Smardale Hall. The plan of the
village is of a type familiar to this part of Cumbria in which two parallel
lines of houses with associated crofts (gardens or stock enclosures) face
onto a village green or street. Although space is limited on the ridge, the
village consists of a small but regular two-row arrangement of three crofts or
plots either side of a central roadway. Within or immediately adjacent to
these plots are remains of at least six buildings. The boundary walls of the
plots measure up to 1.2m high by 3m wide. There is an associated stone
boundary wall a short distance to the north of the village.
In the eastern row the southern plot contains remains of a collapsed and
robbed rectangular building measuring 15m by 5m along its western side
abutting the central roadway and, in its centre, the turf-covered stone walls
of a partly robbed rectangular structure measuring approximately 10m by 6m
with an entrance on its eastern side. The central plot, like the southern, has
remains of a building of similar size between the roadway and the enclosure; a
later rectangular enclosure with walls of slighter construction and having
entrances in its north and south walls has been built on the west of this
central plot and extends into the roadway. The northern plot is subdivided and
contains a rectangular building measuring approximately 10m by 6m in its
southern part. In the western row the northern plot has a sunken interior,
while adjacent to the outside of its western side are remains of a building
measuring approximately 10m by 5m. The central plot is subdivided and contains
the remains of a building about 8m square against its western wall and a
raised sub-rectangular platform suitable for a building in its south east
corner. The southernmost enclosure has a sunken interior but it is possible
that a rectangular building may have stood on the slightly domed flat on its
western edge. The two plots in the western row which have sunken interiors are
interpreted as stock enclosures or former ponds. A short distance to the north
of the village there are remains of an associated stone boundary wall or field
bank, running westwards from a large rock scar and across a shallow valley in
which the west row of the village lies, to the crest of a slight ridge.
Although the date of the earliest settlement of Smardale South Demense village
is presently unknown, occupation is thought to have commenced during the early
medieval period, from the fifth century onwards, and continued until
approximately the early 12th century when it was abandoned upon the foundation
of the present Smardale village.

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

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 Lake District local region is characterised by a series of mountain blocks
separated by deep valleys, providing great variation in local terrains.
Settlement is sparse, but villages and hamlets occasionally appear in the
valleys. Higher up, above the level of medieval fields enclosed by the stone
walls known a head-dykes, are traces of medieval and earlier settlements in
farmlands since abandoned.

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 feature includes roads and minor tracks, platforms
on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and
small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included parish churches 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 provinces of England
medieval villages occurred infrequently amid areas of otherwise dispersed
settlement and good examples are therefore proportionally infrequent. Thus the
archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for understanding
rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
Smardale South Demesne medieval village survives well and is a rare example in
north west England of an early medieval village which was abandoned by the
12th century. It is a good example of this class of monument in the Lake
District 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), 433-55
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
SMR No. 2771, Cumbria SMR, Waitby British Settlement on Smardale Demense, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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