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Medieval settlement and church of Asterleigh

A Scheduled Monument in Kiddington with Asterleigh, Oxfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8971 / 51°53'49"N

Longitude: -1.4196 / 1°25'10"W

OS Eastings: 440029.45431

OS Northings: 222224.687129

OS Grid: SP400222

Mapcode National: GBR 6TJ.1WJ

Mapcode Global: VHBZJ.BLV0

Entry Name: Medieval settlement and church of Asterleigh

Scheduled Date: 9 April 1951

Last Amended: 16 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020966

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30837

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Kiddington with Asterleigh

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Wootton, Glympton and Kiddington

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Details

The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Asterleigh
and the associated site of St Peter's Church, two post-medieval kilns and
medieval quarry workings. The monument lies on the crest of a slight
east-west ridge overlooking a shallow valley known as Pump Copse.
The monument is known from aerial photographs, archaeological surveys and
field investigation. It is aligned roughly east-west along the ridge line
following a main street which can still be seen as an earthwork hollow
way. This hollow way forms part of an old route from Kiddington to Over
Kiddington, parts of which are still in use as farm tracks in the modern
landscape. The village remains include at least ten house platforms which
vary in size from about 5 sq m to over 15m across, adjacent to the Church
of St Peter to the north of the hollow way. The church is now only visible
as a rectangular earthwork up to 0.6m high and measuring 20m from north to
south and approximately 30m from east to west. This represents the
boundary of the churchyard which is similar in size to many others in West
Oxfordshire during the medieval period. To the east, roughly 40m from the
churchyard boundary, is a depression 15m wide by 40m long. This may
represent a pond at the heart of the village which has become infilled
over time. To the south are two circular features roughly 9m in diameter
which are believed to be the sites of early post-medieval kilns. South of
these the edge of the village has been obscured by later quarrying.
The village is not mentioned separately in the Domesday book but is
included under the entry for Over Kiddington. Pottery from the site and
documentary records show that the village was certainly thriving in the
late 12th century and continued to be occupied until the 1460s when it was
considered too poor to survive due to depopulation as a result of several
epidemics. These had begun in the 1340s with the Black Death. During the
following 120 years further outbreaks of plague and other related problems
meant that the settlement never really recovered and in 1466 the
population was moved to Over Kiddington and were subsequently counted in
the census there. However, the church continued in use until it was
finally abandoned in the late 16th century. The font from the church is
now believed to be in a garden in Radford.
The quarrying south of the village occurred from the 1460s onwards and may
be related to the kilns which occupied part of the site. A more obvious
quarry just south of the village is modern and is excluded from the
scheduling. All modern post and wire fence boundaries crossing the site,
including gate posts and the track surface, are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.
The Upper Avon and Thames local region has mixed characteristics, with
elements of both `village' and `woodland' landscapes. It is distinguished by
substantial densities of villages and hamlets associated with moderate numbers
of scattered farmsteads, giving a rather dense overall pattern, but the region
still carried woodland in 1086, and the Braden and Chippenham Forests reflect
this.

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 distinguished 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
included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the
manorial system most villages included 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 medieval settlement site of Asterleigh is a good example of the local
settlement pattern, identified as such through a national evaluation
programme. It survives well as a series of earthworks and buried features
and is of particular interest as it was abandoned at a relatively early
date, in part, as a result of the Black Death. In addition the medieval
quarrying associated with part of the site and the early post-medieval
kilns add to the continuity of use on the site and demonstrate how its
function in the landscape changed over time.
The evidence provided by pottery revealed by quarrying, aerial photography
and documentary sources indicate that the site will contain archaeological
and environmental evidence relating to the habitation of the settlement,
the reasons for its abandonment and its subsequent changes of use.
Taken with evidence from other medieval settlement sites in the region, a
number of which are also scheduled monuments, the village remains at
Asterleigh will provide an insight into the economic and agricultural
forces which led to villages such as these being abandoned in favour of
other settlement sites within the region as a whole.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
During site visits regarding font, JEFFERY, PAUL P, Discussion with owners in Radford and Asterleigh, (1998)
PRN 853, Sites and Monuments Record Officer, Asterleigh Deserted Medieval Village, (1986)
PRN 853, Sites and Monuments Record Officer, Asterleigh Deserted Medieval Village, (1986)
PRN 853, Sites and Monuments Record Officer, Asterleigh Deserted Medieval Village, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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