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Medieval settlement and associated field systems west of Brook Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Westbury, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.2655 / 51°15'55"N

Longitude: -2.2131 / 2°12'47"W

OS Eastings: 385224.295723

OS Northings: 151836.774581

OS Grid: ST852518

Mapcode National: GBR 1TC.R7R

Mapcode Global: VH978.LGC7

Entry Name: Medieval settlement and associated field systems west of Brook Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019386

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34182

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Westbury

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Westbury

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes the
medieval settlement of Brook, a manor house site and associated field systems
located on a slight east facing slope of Oxford Clay dropping to the Biss
Brook, 2km west of Westbury. The settlement is centred around a large hollow
way which runs north to south at the base of the slope for a length of 550m,
rising across the ridge to the south. At the northernmost end of the site, a
branch of the hollow way runs westwards up the slope for a further 110m.
Fronting onto the central section of the hollow way to the west are five
earthen house platforms. These are terraced into the slope but are built up to
a height of 0.75m to the east and are divided by slight trackways. To the west
of these, small areas defined by slight scarps probably represent back yards
or gardens.
North of the area of settlement a series of large paddocks are situated on the
slope to the west of the hollow way. These are defined by ditches up to 0.4m
deep, some with accompanying banks. The northernmost paddock is bounded to the
north by the western branch of the hollow way. The paddocks are large and
rectangular in contrast to the typical strip fields of the medieval period and
may represent patches cleared from the Forest of Selwood.
South of Brook Lane the character of the settlement changes. Located at the
top of the slope, a large platform standing up to 0.7m high is the site of a
manor house which is depicted on the 1773 Andrews and Dury map of Wiltshire.
The platform measures 50m from north to south but is cut into two parts by a
later hedge bank.
Below the platform running down the slope, a series of slight scarps and
hollows are interpreted as the remains of the formal garden of the house. The
main hollow way continues at the base of the slope, while another runs
parallel 35m to the east linking Brook Lane and the large platform.
At the bottom of the slope and continuing to the east are a series of well
defined ridges, up to 0.5m high and 6m wide running north-south, divided by
furrows 0.5m deep and 5m wide. These represent strip fields which would have
been farmed individually by villagers from Brook. At either end the strips end
in a large earthen bank, known as a headland, both now occupied by hedges. The
headland to the north curves to follow the line of a small track branching
from Brook Lane.
Brook is first recorded in 1228 in forest inquisitions and by 1377, poll tax
returns indicate a small settlement. The manor of Brook stood approximately
1km to the north, now the site of Brook Manor Farm. By the 1773 Andrew's and
Dury map of Wiltshire, the settlement had shrunk to a single large house on
the platform to the south of the present lane. It now survives as two farms.
The site was surveyed in detail in 1998.
All fenceposts and cattle troughs 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 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 medieval settlement of Brook and its associated field systems represent a
succinct and complete example of a small rural settlement in the low lying
clay vale of Wiltshire. As well as the settlement itself, two contrasting
forms of medieval land use are represented; the typical strip field system and
a less common division of the land into paddocks, probably associated with
forest clearance.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Corney, M, Brook Farm, Dilton Marsh An analytical earthwork survey, (1998)
Corney, M, Brook Farm, Dilton Marsh An analytical earthwork survey, (1998)
Corney, M, Brook Farm, Dilton Marsh An analytical earthwork survey, (1998)
Title: Andrew's and Durey's Map of Wiltshire
Source Date: 1793
Map No 7
Title: Andrew's and Dury's Map of Wiltshire
Source Date: 1773
Map no 7

Source: Historic England

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