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Wildthorpe medieval settlement 680m south of Leylands Farm

A Scheduled Monument in High Melton, Doncaster

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Latitude: 53.5052 / 53°30'18"N

Longitude: -1.2306 / 1°13'50"W

OS Eastings: 451125.857403

OS Northings: 401218.56027

OS Grid: SE511012

Mapcode National: GBR MWVX.C6

Mapcode Global: WHDD7.2586

Entry Name: Wildthorpe medieval settlement 680m south of Leylands Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020579

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29994

County: Doncaster

Civil Parish: High Melton

Built-Up Area: High Melton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Sprotbrough St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned
medieval settlement of Wildthorpe. The monument is situated in the grounds of
High Melton Hall which was built in 1757 and is now part of Doncaster College.
It is situated on a slight terrace approximately 90m above sea level, on the
western escarpment of Lower Magnesian Limestone.
Wildthorpe is first mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 where it is
documented that Roger de Busli owned enough land for one plough and that there
was a priest there. At this time Wildthorpe was worth a total of 20 shillings
8 pence. The reasons for desertion are unclear but it is thought to have been
a gradual process rather than the result of a single act of displacement due
to emparking. A series of deeds referring to the settlement indicate that the
village still had its own open field system in the early 17th century but was
probably deserted by 1670.
The monument survives as a series of earthwork and buried remains. Running
north to south along the western edge of the monument, and curving along its
southern side, is a wide sunken gully which is interpreted as a sunken track
or hollow way. This is approximately 10m wide and sits on the edge of the
scarp which drops away steeply to the west. The hollow way was later
incorporated into the landscaped grounds of High Melton Hall and forms an
extension of what is known as The Dean's Walk.
Abutting the eastern side of the hollow way is a series of six rectangular
enclosures which are aligned east to west. These are defined by low banks and
are interpreted as crofts. At the western end of three of the crofts, and
close to the hollow way, are smaller rectangular features, again defined by
low banks. These measure approximately 12m by 13m and are interpreted as the
sites of medieval buildings or tofts with the low banks representing the
buried remains of walls. It would appear that Wildthorpe was a linear
settlement arranged along the line of the hollow way which would have provided
the main access route through the settlement.
At the southern end of the monument is a large rectangular terrace measuring
approximately 45m by 33m with the defining banks surviving to a height of
0.5m. There are slight undulations on the surface of the terrace but these are
difficult to define. This area has been the subject of a small scale
excavation and it may be that some features have been degraded or obscured
during these investigations. The excavation trench revealed the footings of a
building. These were constructed of roughly dressed limestone, laid to a width
of about 0.6m, with rubble infilling. The footings measured just over 3m in
length, including a doorway, and, at right angles to this, another footing
measuring 2.5m in length. These remains were associated with 14th and 15th
century pottery.
In the north east corner of the monument, to the east of the crofts, is a
large oval shaped hollow up to 20m in diameter and 1m deep. This appears to
truncate one of the croft boundaries suggesting that it is post-medieval in
date. It is interpreted as a quarry, dug to obtain stone for the construction
of the hall or landscape features associated with it. The physical association
of the quarry to the medieval earthworks, which survive to the north, east and
south, means that important information about the chronological sequence of
activity on the site is retained.
All modern fences and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these 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 Pennine Slope sub-Province of the Central Province,
which embraces the varied scarp and vale topography flanking the higher
portions of the southern Pennines, where narrow escarpments of limestone and
sandstone and softer shale vales give a distinct north-south grain to the
landscape. Dispersed settlement increases from extremely low to medium
densities in the south east of the sub-Province to high densities at the north
west. With the exception of Sherwood Forest, the region is well stocked with
nucleated settlements, some old but others the result of 18th- and 19th-
century industrial developments. Anglo-Saxon `wood' names are common among
placenames, and the area was well wooded in 1086.
The Permian Limestone Ridge local region is an area of great diversity. A
long, narrow outcrop of limestone is cut by a succession of rivers and streams
flowing eastwards. There are wide contrasts in the amounts of both nucleated
and dispersed settlement. At the time of Domesday Book only the northern part
of the region contained recorded settlements, while the place-names of the
southern part indicate woodland in Anglo-Saxon times.

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. They frequently include the parish church
within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages
include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains
as well as below ground deposits. In the central province 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 earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of
Wildthorpe are well-preserved and retain significant archaeological remains.
The earthworks, provide a picture of the layout of the settlement and its
chronological development. As a whole, the medieval settlement of Wildthorpe
will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development and
subsequent abandonment of medieval settlement in the area and its position in
the wider landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
WEA history group, , Sprotborough in history part II, (1969)
Roberts, J. G, Altered by the hands of taste:halls, parks and landscapes in the, 1995, undergraduate dissertation Sheffield

Source: Historic England

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