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North Charlton medieval village and open field system

A Scheduled Monument in Eglingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4995 / 55°29'58"N

Longitude: -1.7309 / 1°43'51"W

OS Eastings: 417098.918838

OS Northings: 622892.905398

OS Grid: NU170228

Mapcode National: GBR J4CV.2D

Mapcode Global: WHC15.D109

Entry Name: North Charlton medieval village and open field system

Scheduled Date: 21 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018348

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29349

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Eglingham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ellingham St Maurice

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes part of the shrunken remains of the medieval village of
North Charlton and its open field system, situated in the coastal plain of
north Northumberland. The monument is divided into three areas. The township
of North Charlton was held by the lords of Ditchburn and in the 13th century
was the property of Ralph Fitz Roger. In 1296 a document records 12
inhabitants eligible to pay taxes. North Charlton passed to the Beaumont
family in the early 14th century and, apart from a 20 year spell in the late
15th century, it remained in their hands until the early 16th century. A map
of 1769 shows a two-row village at North Charlton.
The village is aligned east-west and is divided by low banks into small
plots with the remains of one building standing up to 0.4m high on the north
side. To the south west of this building, across a slight hollow way, is a
probable market cross consisting of a stone shaft 1.3m tall, set in a socket
stone on a square base of three steps; a cross is referred to in a survey of
1578 as standing on South Row. The cross is Listed Grade II. The Charlton Burn
separates the north side of the village from an area of ridge and furrow
cultivation and a prominent mound called Castle Close. However, there is no
evidence for there having been a castle at North Charlton and building
foundations on top of the mound have been interpreted as those of the Chapel
of St Giles. The foundations measure 15m by 8m with a structure 6m square
attached to the north west side; the interior is slightly raised. The chapel
is mentioned in documents in the mid-12th century and had fallen into ruin by
the 14th century. Around the base of the mound is a stony bank up to 1m high.
The site of a graveyard is thought to lie to the south of the mound where
numerous graves were found when the land was under cultivation. To the west of
the mound is a sub-rectangular enclosure which overlies the ridge and furrow
and is interpreted as a later farmstead. To the east of the village, and now
separated from it by the A1 trunk road, are part of the medieval open fields
which once surrounded the whole village. They survive in the form of a series
of furlongs or fields, each containing well preserved ridge and furrow
Other earthwork remains of the village survive to the west and are not
included in the scheduling as their nature and date are not fully understood.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the telegraph
poles and their supports, a concrete slab bridge across the Charlton Burn,
post and wire fencing, a brick reservoir, stone field walls and track across
the eastern area of ridge and furrow, and a water tank, 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 last 1500 years or more.
The Tweed local region includes the Kyloe Hills, the Till Valley and Milfield
Plain, as well as the rolling ridges of the Tweed Valley proper. Its
rectangular fields, low densities of dispersed farmsteads, tenant cottages and
estate villages all signify agrarian improvement in the 18th and 19th
centuries. Earthworks, usually in or near present villages, sometimes indicate
the earlier medieval farming communities which have been replaced.

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 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 oxen teams 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 or lands 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 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.
Although the remains of North Charlton medieval village are partly built
over, considerable areas survive and contain significant archaeological
deposits. Together with the remains of its open field system, it will add
greatly to our knowledge and understanding of medieval settlement and land use
in the region.

Source: Historic England

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