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Remains of Barton Bendish medieval settlement immediately west of Abbey Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Barton Bendish, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6261 / 52°37'33"N

Longitude: 0.5369 / 0°32'12"E

OS Eastings: 571806.131257

OS Northings: 306165.680928

OS Grid: TF718061

Mapcode National: GBR P6S.BKB

Mapcode Global: WHKR0.68X4

Entry Name: Remains of Barton Bendish medieval settlement immediately west of Abbey Farm

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018650

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30556

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Barton Bendish

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Barton Bendish St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of part of the
medieval settlement of Barton Bendish, located some 750m north east of St
Andrews Church and the centre of the modern village. A moated site, identified
as that of East Hall manor, lies about 300m to the south west of the
earthworks and is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The settlement remains are visible as a series of rectilinear earthwork
enclosures extending to either side of part of a sunken roadway which runs on
a south west-north east alignment and is about 13m wide and up to 1m deep,
measured from the level of the ground to the south. The road way is identified
as one named Blind Lane in an early 17th century survey, and the enclosures
represent tofts (homestead enclosures) and associated closes adjoining it.
Running south eastwards from the sunken way are the remains of a slight bank,
approximately 102m in length, forming the western boundary of an enclosure
which is defined at the southern end by a slight scarp. The scarp is thought
to mark the northern edge of the main street of the medieval village which
formerly continued north eastwards from the part still in use, now known as
Church Road. The enclosures to the north of the sunken way vary in size and
are bounded by ditches from about 0.4m up to 1m in depth with traces of
embankments in a few places. Three of these enclosures adjoin the roadway,
running back 80m-85m to a well defined ditch about 5m wide which follows a
slightly irregular course roughly parallel to the line of the way and divides
them from a further group of at least six enclosures to the north. Along the
southern side of this ditch the surface of the three enclosures is raised
about 0.5m to form a broad bank of varying width. The enclosures beyond extend
over an area measuring approximately 100m south west-north east by 157m and
one, on the western side, has a roughly rectangular, raised platform at the
northern end which perhaps supported a building or buildings. A ditch or
linear hollow, embanked slightly on the southern side, runs north eastward
from the outer corner of the easternmost and smallest enclosure, widening and
curving to the north, and was perhaps part of a sunken track or field path.

Fragments of medieval pottery found in molehills within the area of the
enclosures provide evidence for the occupation of the site during that period
and a particular concentration has been noted in the northern part of the
site. Larger quantities of pottery, dating from the Late Saxon period to the
16th century, have been recorded in the ploughsoil of fields to the west and
south west.

According to the Domesday survey of 1086, Barton Bendish in the late 11th
century was already a substantial settlement, with five manors, at least two
(later three) churches and a listed adult population of 83, indicating a total
population of around 400. Subsequent tax returns and valuations show that it
remained one of the most important settlements in Clacklose Hundred throughout
the medieval period, although there was a gradual decline from the 14th
century onwards, leading ultimately to the abandonment of the eastern end of
the village, probably in the 16th century. The pattern of settlement, which
developed in linear fashion along either side of the main east-west street,
has been demonstrated as a result of archaeological field work.

All field gates and fences, together with service poles across the southern
part of the monument, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them 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 Wash sub-Province of the South-eastern Province, an
area which can be divided into two parts. The western part is the fenlands
with associated marshlands, siltlands and islands, with villages, hamlets and
bands of farmsteads and cottages clinging to the slight islands and dykes
above land once seasonally flooded. The eastern part embraces the sands and
loams of west Norfolk, studded with ancient villages and hamlets, some of them
depopulated. To the south lie the Brecklands, an elevated, thinly-settled
The Fen local region is distinguished by its flat, open landscapes with
embankments and drainage channels. Nucleated settlements are largely absent,
and dispersed dwellings lie thinly scattered along roads, embankments and
slight natural rises. Subtle variations reflect differing phases of medieval
and later reclamation.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities at the centre of a
parish or township, sharing resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where they survive as
earthworks, their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, and
enclosed crofts and small paddocks. They frequently include 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 buried deposits. In west Norfolk, villages are one of the
characteristic features of medieval settlement, and their archaeological
remains are an important source of understanding of life in the five or more
centuries following the Norman Conquest.

The remains of the medieval settlement immediately west of Abbey Farm survive
well and are a good example of an area of such settlement which was later
abandoned as the village of which it formed a part contracted in population
and size. The earthworks and buried remains associated with them will contain
archaeological information concerning the origins, development and occupation
of this outer part of the settlement, to supplement what is known from the
limited historical records and from archaeological field work and excavation
in other parts of the village.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rogerson, A, Davison, A, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in Barton Bendish and Caldecote: Fieldwork in South West Norfolk, , Vol. 80, (1997), 22-42

Source: Historic England

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