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Hackthorn medieval settlement and cultivation remains

A Scheduled Monument in Hackthorn, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.3289 / 53°19'43"N

Longitude: -0.5102 / 0°30'36"W

OS Eastings: 499317.753041

OS Northings: 382363.046075

OS Grid: SK993823

Mapcode National: GBR SYWY.BD

Mapcode Global: WHGHM.4LBC

Entry Name: Hackthorn medieval settlement and cultivation remains

Scheduled Date: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020197

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22774

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Hackthorn

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Hackthorn St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the medieval village
of Hackthorn together with associated farmsteads and cultivation remains. It
lies in three areas of protection.
During the medieval period, Hackthorn was a small village which remained
fairly constant in size. At the time of the Domesday Book there were three
principal manors as well as a church and two mills; by the early 12th century
there were also three smaller estates. During the late 12th and early 13th
centuries, consecutive land grants to monastic houses, combined with a
consolidation of secular property, resulted in the predominance of two estates
in Hackthorn, one centred upon a manorial complex at the western end of the
village, and the other upon a grange of the Gilbertine priory of Bullington
which is thought to have been located east of the village around Grange Farm.
After the Black Death in the mid-14th century, the population of Hackthorn
dropped sharply to less than half its former size, and the two main estates
were united into a single holding. Thereafter, the population gradually
recovered so that, by the time of the Dissolution in 1538, it stood at its
former level. Hackthorn occupies both sides of a shallow valley, through which
a stream runs from west to east. By the late medieval period a manorial block
had become established in the western part of the village, north of the
stream, where the church and manor house or hall were located. The old hall,
which lay to the east of the Church of St Michael, was demolished in 1793, and
in 1793-5 the present hall was built to the west of the church. All of these
features lie outside the scheduled area. The monument includes part of the
landscaped park to the south of the hall, where nucleated medieval village and
cultivation remains are located, and two areas of earthworks to the east,
which include the remains of dispersed settlement features.
The nucleated settlement remains are situated in Hackthorn Park, south of the
ornamental lake which was created along the stream in the late 18th century.
Running east-west along the north-facing slope, roughly parallel with the
water course, is a broad hollow way representing the principal village street.
Along the north side of the hollow way is a linear bank beyond which the
earth-covered remains of limestone rubble walls, standing up to 1m high,
indicate the location of walled house plots. Further earth-covered stone
walls within the plots represent the remains of houses and other buildings.
The northern ends of the plots are partly overlain by spoil taken from the
lake. Adjacent to the west of these features is a raised embanked enclosure
which represents the remains of a farmstead.
On the south side of the village street, the remains of ridge and furrow
cultivation extend up the slope towards the park's southern boundary. Adjacent
to the principal hollow way, the cultivation remains have been cut into by
later quarrying, resulting in substantial depressions up to at least 3m deep.
These quarries are believed to have been in use during the 19th century when
the Church of St Michael was largely rebuilt. In the eastern part of the park,
the ridge and furrow and the hollow way are traversed by the remains of a
carriage drive which served the old hall until its demolition in the late 18th
Lying within the second area of protection to the east of Popples Cottage is a
further area of medieval earthwork remains. At the centre of this area,
adjacent to the south of the stream, are the remains of house plots and
associated buildings. Running along the south side of the house plots, a
linear hollow way represents the earlier village street, which is thought to
have been established along a former course of the stream. Redirected to its
present course, the stream thus served to separate the house plots from the
enclosures which extended up the slope to the north. Two of these enclosures
survive, that on the west including the visible remains of ridge and furrow
cultivation. Two further enclosures survive on the opposite slope, south of
the hollow way; on the south side of these are the remains of another hollow
way, representing a predecessor to the present village street which runs
adjacent to it.
The third area of protection is situated on the north side of the present
village and extends eastwards from the earthworks around Yew Tree Farm
over a distance of approximately 400m. The standing buildings at Yew Tree
Farm, including the occupied farmhouse and garden, are not included in the
scheduling. To the west and south west of Yew Tree Farm are the earthwork
remains of rectangular embanked enclosures which are terraced into the south-
facing slope. In low-lying ground in the south western part of this area
is a linear pond, now dry, with a bank along its northern side. Within the
terraced enclosure to the north of it are the buried walls of a circular
structure, about 10m in diameter, possibly a dovecote. To the east of these
embanked enclosures and immediately to the south of the standing farm
buildings is a broad sunken area representing a former yard. Adjacent to the
east of the trackway which runs alongside the yard, and raised and levelled up
to 1.5m above it, is a broad embanked enclosure, rectangular in plan, which is
thought to represent a walled platform where the buildings of an early
farmstead were located. Buried building remains, including those of an early
farmhouse, are believed to lie at the southern end of the enclosure.
Immediately to the east of Yew Tree Farm are fragmentary remains of ridge and
furrow cultivation, marking the separation of the farmstead from further
remains of dispersed settlement to the east. This small area represents the
only surviving part of a once extensive area of a medieval cultivation pattern
which formerly spread to the north, west and south of the settlement but which
has largely been destroyed by modern ploughing.
Immediately to the east of the ridge and furrow are substantial earthworks
indicating a further farmstead, which also extends across the south-facing
slope on the north side of the stream. A series of banks, representing
earth-covered stone walls, delineate rectangular enclosures. That on the west
includes the earth-covered foundations of a rectangular building such as a
house or barn. The most substantial building remains are located on the higher
ground in the northern part of this monument, where rectangular building
remains are ranged around sunken yards. The principal group of buildings,
representing the core of the farmstead, is located centrally within this
cluster of earthworks, separated by a yard and trackway from further building
remains to the east.
A linear ditch and bank, running east-west, separates the upper area of
building remains from low-lying land to the south, where former animal
enclosures are ranged between trackways and water channels. Running along the
north side of the present stream is a channel which marks its earlier course,
now separated from it by a broad flat bank. A substantial linear bank about
0.5m in height retains the southern side of the present stream; at its western
end, where the two courses of the stream diverge, a small brick bridge carries
a former trackway. South of the stream the trackway turns eastward to run
alongside the bank, and then south again to skirt an embanked enclosure which
lies in the southern part of the scheduling. A raised platform adjacent to the
southern boundary of the monument may indicate the location of further
building remains. A fragment of another raised enclosure occupies the south
eastern corner of the monument; further remains of this and other enclosures
to the east have been levelled by modern ploughing and are not included in the
scheduled area.
All fences, gates and 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 Lincolnshire Scarp and Vale sub-Province of the
Central Province, which comprises a succession of scarps and vales in which
clay vales with alluvial deposits and a chalk ridge, together with associated
glacial deposits, form the structural framework of the landscape. There is a
very dense scatter of nucleated settlements, many of which are situated in
lines along favoured scarp-foot and dip-slope locations. Large numbers of
medieval village sites now lie wholly or partially deserted. Densities of
dispersed farmsteads are very low.
The Scarp and Vale Country local region is divided by the Lincoln Edge from
the broad Vale of Trent to the west. Chains of ancient village settlements,
some now deserted, are characteristic of the region. They occur where soils
change and springs appear. Densities of dispersed farmsteads are uniformly

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied 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 enclosed paddocks. Villages were the most distinctive aspect
of medieval life in central England 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.
Medieval settlements were supported by a communal system of agriculture based
on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided
into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced
long, wide ridges, and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is
the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual
strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs, which were in turn
grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially
in its original context adjacent to settlement earthworks, is both an
important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive
contribution to the character of the historic landscape.
The remains of the medieval settlement at Hackthorn, and the remains of its
open field system, survive well as a series of substantial earthworks. As a
result of detailed archaeological survey and historical research, they are
quite well understood. The survival of nucleated village remains in
conjunction with more dispersed farmsteads is quite rare in this region. The
remains of house plots and farmsteads will preserve valuable evidence for
domestic and economic activities at the site throughout the medieval period,
giving an insight into the lifestyle of its inhabitants. The survival of
parts of the open fields they cultivated will also contribute to our
understanding of settlement in the wider medieval landscape.

Source: Historic England

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