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Medieval settlement, cultivation remains and boundary 550m north west of Upham Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Aldbourne, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4963 / 51°29'46"N

Longitude: -1.6768 / 1°40'36"W

OS Eastings: 422530.196436

OS Northings: 177535.36066

OS Grid: SU225775

Mapcode National: GBR 5XP.2W2

Mapcode Global: VHC19.WND9

Entry Name: Medieval settlement, cultivation remains and boundary 550m north west of Upham Hall

Scheduled Date: 17 April 1957

Last Amended: 7 November 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020131

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33953

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Aldbourne

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Upham and an
associated boundary and cultivation remains, situated across the summit and
northern slopes of Upham Down, a chalk scarp.
The main area of the medieval settlement is defined by a hollow way
approximately 200m in length which gradually curves from an east to west axis
through to the north west and originally marked the main thoroughfare through
the hamlet. The northern and south eastern sides of the hollow way are lined
by a series of small enclosures, low platforms and short lengths of trackway
which mark the location of buildings and their associated features. Linear
boundaries defining a series of long rectangular enclosures abut the south
western side of the hollow way and are evidence of medieval agriculture, as is
a small area of ridge and furrow cultivation to the west, the remainder of
which has been levelled by ploughing and is not included in the scheduling.
The first documentary reference to the settlement is contained in an Anglo-
Saxon charter dated to AD 955 which names it as Upammere, corrupted to Upham
by 1201. In around 1249 Sir William Longespee gave Upper Upham manor to
Lacock Abbey and the manor remained in the abbey's possession until the
Dissolution when it was sold by the Crown to John Goddard. Documentary sources
suggest that the settlement associated with the medieval manorial site at
Upper Upham was never substantial. In 1291 the manor was valued at 1 pound 10
shillings and in 1377 there were just 40 poll tax payers in Upper Upham,
making it one of the smallest settlements in Selkley Hundred. By 1476 Upper
Upham was described as `at farm', suggesting that it had been largely
depopulated by this point and in 1599 Richard Goddard built Upper Upham House
to the south east of the hollow way. The construction of the new manor house
appears to have radically changed the layout of the settlement and led finally
to the abandonment of the hollow way as a thoroughfare. The hollow way is not
marked on a map dated to 1773 and a new east to west trackway had evidently
been built to the south, the course of which is still followed by the modern
In the 19th century a number of Romano-British and Iron Age brooches, sherds
of pottery and the foundations of a structure allegedly containing a hypocaust
(an under-floor heating system associated with Roman villas and bath houses)
were found on Upham Down. Although their precise find spots can no longer be
identified, these suggest that the hill was already the focus for occupation
long before the first documentary reference to a settlement. Extensive
prehistoric or Romano-British field systems on the downs around Upper Upham
have been levelled by ploughing but are clearly visible as soilmarks. A low
earthwork bank running from the north western end of the hollow way continues
downslope for 250m, curves eastwards for 500m along the bottom of the down
before turning abruptly south and running upslope for a further 100m. Its
orientation in relation to the soilmark field boundaries around it suggests
that it was originally part of the earlier field system but was enhanced and
reused as a stock boundary in the medieval period. A trackway following its
western side probably represented a continuation of the hollow way and may
therefore have been medieval.
All fences, gates and feeding 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 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 Upper Upham survive well as a
series of earthworks and buried deposits. Many areas have remained undisturbed
since abandonment and the survival of archaeological deposits relating to
occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain
information about the dating, layout and economy of the settlement, and
together with contemporary documents relating to the village, will provide
a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind its development,
decline and eventual abandonment. The associated prehistoric and Romano-
British field systems and deposits related to them will provide an opportunity
to understand the development and use of the area over a much longer period.

Source: Historic England


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Antiquity No. SU 27 NW 22, (1973)

Source: Historic England

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