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Medieval settlement remains immediately west of The Vicarage

A Scheduled Monument in West Overton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4108 / 51°24'38"N

Longitude: -1.8097 / 1°48'34"W

OS Eastings: 413333.11248

OS Northings: 167989.578676

OS Grid: SU133679

Mapcode National: GBR 4X4.K9C

Mapcode Global: VHB45.LS5W

Entry Name: Medieval settlement remains immediately west of The Vicarage

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019187

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30296

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: West Overton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes abandoned areas of the medieval settlement of East
Overton situated within the modern village of West Overton on a ridge
overlooking the flood plain of the River Kennet.

The areas of abandoned medieval settlement are visible as a series of building
platforms, boundary banks and short lengths of both raised and sunken
trackways situated either side of a NNW to SSE orientated hollow way
originally forming one of the village's main thoroughfares. Up to ten faint
rectangular building platforms within the area between the eastern side of the
hollow way, the 16th century manor house and the church probably represent an
early phase of abandonment. Their southern extent is defined by a curvilinear
sunken trackway which joins the hollow way from the east and follows it south
for 30m before branching off and continuing south west for 200m. A further six
more clearly defined building platforms and large rectilinear enclosures
adjacent to the western half of this trackway belong to a later phase of
abandonment. This is corroborated by a map dated to 1773 which clearly shows
buildings lining the western margins of both the hollow way and trackway.

Referred to in a Saxon charter dated AD 939 as Uferan Tune, by the time of the
Domesday survey in 1086 the manor of Ovretone or East Overton was held by the
Bishop of Winchester. The field in which the monument is situated was named
Ring Close in the Enclosure map of 1815, by which time the hollow way had been
blocked by the construction of a field barn within its base. Subsequent
expansion has joined together the former manorial settlements of East and West
Overton to form a single village, known as West Overton.

All fences, horse jumps, feed troughs, electricity poles and stables 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 past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern
Province, an area in which settlement characteristics are shaped by strong
contrasts in terrain. This is seen in the division between the chalk Downs,
where chains of nucleated settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the
Hampshire Basin, still dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the
ancient New Forest, where nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the
coastal strip extending into Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire
some coastal areas and inland valleys are marked by high densities of
dispersed settlement, much of it post-medieval.
The Berkshire Downs and Marlborough Downs local region is characterised by
extremely low densities of dispersed settlements on the downland, with
villages and dense `strings' of hamlets and farmsteads in the well-watered
valleys. Modern settlements are interspersed with the earthworks of abandoned
medieval settlement sites.

Medieval settlement plans vary 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 paddocks. In the central provinces 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.

The abandoned medieval settlement remains at West Overton survive well as a
series of earthworks and buried deposits. Many areas have remained undisturbed
since their abandonment and the survival of archaeological deposits relating
to their occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain
important information about the dating, layout and economy of the settlement,
and together with contemporary documents will provide a good opportunity to
understand the mechanisms behind its development, decline and the eventual
abandonment of areas of the village.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fowler, P J, Fyfod Working Paper 26. The Historical Morphology of W.Overton, (1995)
Fowler, P J, Blackwell, I, The Land of Lettice Sweetapple, An English Countryside Explored, (1998), 86-87
RCHME, Shrunken Village Remains of East Overton, West Overton, (1975)
Source Date: 1773
Plate 14

Source: Historic England

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