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Medieval settlement of Sheldon

A Scheduled Monument in Chippenham Without, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4658 / 51°27'56"N

Longitude: -2.1687 / 2°10'7"W

OS Eastings: 388374.763916

OS Northings: 174105.789679

OS Grid: ST883741

Mapcode National: GBR 1R3.4HM

Mapcode Global: VH96B.CFB5

Entry Name: Medieval settlement of Sheldon

Scheduled Date: 15 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018428

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28987

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Chippenham Without

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Chippenham St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Bristol


The monument includes the medieval settlement of Sheldon situated on a slight
south east facing slope to the west of Sheldon Manor affording views over the
low lying clay vale towards Salisbury Plain.
The settlement occupies the south eastern slope of a small clay ridge. It is
linear in plan and two distinct centres of occupation can be identified. At
the top of the slope above the eastern side of the settlement is Sheldon Wood
while the present day manor and associated buildings are situated to the east
of the monument.
A hollow way, 1.5m deep and up to 12m wide, interpreted as the main street
runs east-west immediately south of Sheldon Wood. To the south of this the
main area of settlement comprises a number of substantial house platforms up
to 1.5m high set into the slope. These continue to the north east abutting the
field boundary to the north of the manor. On the top of the slope a series of
paddocks are enclosed by a village boundary bank. The paddocks are defined by
shallow ditches. South of this main group of platforms a hollow way runs east-
west at the bottom of the slope before merging with a field boundary to the
west. Adjacent to this two funnel shaped downcut features are interpreted as
To the west of the main settlement the hollow way continues WSW, to the north
of which a series of downcut strip field boundaries run north-south to the top
of the slope. Adjacent to the hollow way the fields have been encroached upon
by a line of small platforms. Towards the western end, the main street joins
another hollow way running north-south to the top of the ridge. To the west of
this a series of platforms represent another, smaller centre of occupation
which carries on into Corsham Wood to the west. Beyond this a further village
boundary bank marks the end of the settlement.
To the west of the main settlement and south of the high street an area
untouched by modern agriculture is interpreted as land used for pasture.
Sheldon Manor is mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of 1172-3 when it was granted to
Sir William de Wendeval. The village is first referred to in the inquisition
on the death of Joan Gascelyn who died in 1287 which lists 13 cottagers
holding land at the manor of Shuldone. The village had vanished by 1582 when
it was split into two farms.
All fence posts and cattle troughs 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 last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cotswold Scarp and Vales sub-Province of the Central
Province, a scarp and vale landscape extending south eastwards from the clays
and alluvium of the Severn Plain, over the limestones of the Cotswolds to the
Oxford Clay Vale. Villages and hamlets concentrate thickly in the Severn
Valley and the Vale of Pewsey, but are only moderately dense elsewhere. They
are most thinly scattered on the higher ridge of the north east Cotswolds, an
area where in 1851 there were low populations and frequent deserted villages.
Overall, there are very low concentrations of dispersed farmsteads, the only
exceptions being the Vale of Pewsey and the Upper Avon and Thames watershed.
The Cotswolds south west and north east local region is characterised by
village and hamlet settlements, and contains few scattered dwellings. The
landscape of this gently tilted plateau prospered in the Middle Ages through
the wool trade based upon the sheep pastures of its former open wolds.
Villages tend to lie in folds or along valley sides, where water was

The medieval village of Sheldon is well preserved and is a good example of its
class displaying particuarly diverse and well defined features. It does not
seem to have been ploughed since the village disappeared. The manor and
village of Sheldon is well documented from the medieval period onwards.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gerrard, C, Sheldon Manor deserted Medieval Village Chippenham, (1989), 1-2

Source: Historic England

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