Ancient Monuments

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Seacourt medieval settlement 760m west of Manor Farm, Binsey

A Scheduled Monument in Wytham, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7636 / 51°45'48"N

Longitude: -1.2977 / 1°17'51"W

OS Eastings: 448566.909164

OS Northings: 207445.093407

OS Grid: SP485074

Mapcode National: GBR 7XK.GR1

Mapcode Global: VHCXM.GXBX

Entry Name: Seacourt medieval settlement 760m west of Manor Farm, Binsey

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1954

Last Amended: 16 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020971

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30830

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Wytham

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire


The monument includes the remains of Seacourt medieval settlement,
situated within two separate areas of protection, on either side of the
cutting of the Oxford Western By-pass. The site is bounded to the east by
the Seacourt Stream, sometimes called the Wytham Stream, and to the west
by the edge of Marleywood Plantation which appears to follow the edge of
the original settlement boundary. The results of limited excavation in
1939 prior to the road cutting, together with more recent field evaluation
work and aerial photographs of the low visible earthworks, confirm the
extent of the settlement, as well as the survival of associated buried
remains which date from the period between 1300 and 1400.
The settlement, or village, is laid out around several hollow ways or
streets, the most prominent of which runs roughly north to south to the
west of the modern road. Arranged along these hollow ways are at least
nine house platforms which vary in size from less than 10 sq m to over 40m
in width and an associated pattern of enclosures. Also visible is the site
of the church (partly excavated in 1939), which saw the appointment of its
last incumbent in the early 15th century at a time when the village was
already in decline. Seacourt's decline is believed to be directly linked
to the rise in size and prosperity of Oxford and a corresponding
depopulation of the surrounding countryside.
All post and wire field boundary fences and the boundary fences along the
by-pass are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these features 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.
The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision.
Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession
of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts
which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is in general
dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads,
mostly of post-medieval date, set in the spaces between them. Depopulated
village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.

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 distinctive 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 characteristic
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.
Seacourt medieval settlement is known from excavation to contain
archaeological and environmental remains relating to the development,
occupation and economy of the village from its original establishment up
to and beyond its final abandonment.
Its history is well-documented and excavation of part of the monument in
advance of the building of the by-pass has enhanced our understanding of
the nature and survival of the larger part of the settlement, which remains
undisturbed. Seacourt is one of a number of villages which failed as a result
of being close to the expanding city of Oxford during the Middle Ages and its
decline charts the move from rural to urban population in the region.

Source: Historic England


PRN 2356, SMRO, Seacourt DMV, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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