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Dispersed medieval settlement remains at Chapel Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Charing, Kent

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Latitude: 51.2237 / 51°13'25"N

Longitude: 0.8223 / 0°49'20"E

OS Eastings: 597171.307957

OS Northings: 150948.866866

OS Grid: TQ971509

Mapcode National: GBR RVV.BQ2

Mapcode Global: VHKK7.6HLS

Entry Name: Dispersed medieval settlement remains at Chapel Wood

Scheduled Date: 20 April 1976

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018787

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31402

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Charing

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes the remains of a dispersed medieval settlement situated
on a chalk hill which forms part of the Kent Downs, around 2.25km north east
of Charing.

The settlement, which survives in the form of earthworks and associated below
ground remains, is enclosed by an irregular defensive circuit. This is visible
as a bank up to 4m wide and 1m high, surrounded by a ditch up to 5m wide and
0.5m deep. Investigations, including a detailed survey carried out in 1988,
indicate that the focus of the settlement lies in the western sector of the
monument. Part excavation in 1971 revealed the flint footings of an `L'-shaped
building ranged around the north eastern and south eastern sides of a roughly
square yard. The analysis of pottery fragments found during the excavation
suggests that the building was in use during the 13th and early 14th
centuries. Leading into the courtyard from the north west is a hollow way.
Surrounding the courtyard is a group of roughly rectangular earthworks
representing further buildings, small enclosed fields and associated features,
some of which extend beyond the northern boundary of the main enclosure.

Historical records suggest that the monument is the manorial centre of
Eversley, one of several operating within the larger manor of Charing during
the 13th and 14th centuries.

The medieval earthworks have been partly disturbed by later, post-medieval and
modern activities, including the excavation of several dene holes for chalk
extraction. A small part of the eastern edge of the medieval defensive ditch
has been damaged by the installation of a modern cesspit, and this area is
therefore not included in the scheduling.

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 North Downs and High Downs local regions are `chalklands' which have been
grouped together, despite having distinct settlement characteristics when
analysed in detail. The High Downs have only low densities of dispersed
settlement, while the North Downs have high and very high densities. Some
parts of the North Downs contain hamlets with names including `green',
indicators of woodland settlement.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in
an area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region,
but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include
roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other
buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In
areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations
may still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently
include features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed
medieval settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and Northern
and Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also some
lowland areas. Where found, 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.

The settlement remains in Chapel Wood represent the predominant, dispersed
form of medieval rural settlement in the North and High Downs local regions.
The settlement remains survive well, retaining visible earthworks. Field
survey and part excavation have indicated that the monument contains
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the original form,
development and abandonment of the settlement.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
RCHME, , Chapel Wood, Charing, (1988)
Winzar, PM, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in A Charing Mission Manor, , Vol. 87, (1972), 221-223

Source: Historic England

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