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Medieval settlement remains at Crafton

A Scheduled Monument in Mentmore, Buckinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8666 / 51°51'59"N

Longitude: -0.708 / 0°42'28"W

OS Eastings: 489057.753442

OS Northings: 219462.057276

OS Grid: SP890194

Mapcode National: GBR D29.V4R

Mapcode Global: VHDV0.PB2W

Entry Name: Medieval settlement remains at Crafton

Scheduled Date: 26 June 2013

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1409200

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Mentmore

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Wing with Grove

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Summary

The monument includes the core of the medieval settlement of Crafton with fishponds and a sample of its open field system.

Source: Historic England

Details

Crafton is a shrunken medieval settlement located on the brow of a south-east-facing ridge above the Vale of Aylesbury. The monument includes the remains of a shrunken medieval village, visible as earthworks, in the form of house platforms, banks, enclosures, headlands, lanes, and hollow ways. There is also substantial surviving ridge-and furrow directly associated with the site, which probably pre- and post-dates this settlement of approximately 26 hectares.

The northern end of the site (the location of the present hamlet of Crafton including the Grade II C16 Crafton Farmhouse) is the highest point, with the ground sloping gently downhill to the north and south-east from here. The existing road coming into the village diverges to the east of the present day Crafton hamlet, travelling east-west through the hamlet before coming to an end at Helsthorpe Farm. The other part of the road travels south along the eastern edge of the settlement and comes to an end beyond Crafton Stud Farm.

Halfway down the site to the south is the location of the C19 Crafton Stud, built by the de Rothschild family when they owned Mentmore Estate, now largely rebuilt and converted to private residential accommodation. This is not included in the scheduled area. Directly opposite these buildings, in a field on the western side of the site, is a C19 barn in the middle of a field of east-west ridge and furrow. Continuing to the south, there are further buildings clustered around the area of a second stud, some also built as part of the Mentmore Estate and some more recent (now known as Crafton Stud Farm). Immediately north of Crafton Stud Farm is a newly-built C21 house called Stud Cottage. None of these buildings are included within the scheduling.

To the south of the present hamlet of Crafton aerial photographs of the most notable earthworks indicate that the village was oriented with at least two main thoroughfares and two additional back lanes running north-south through the village. These are clearly visible as hollow-ways on the ground, with a width of up to 3m across and 1 to 1.5m deep, which appear to converge at the southernmost end of the site (in the fields around the present day Crafton Stud Farm). They are crossed at various points by east-west hollow ways which represent further lanes, field boundaries and property boundaries. Rectangular house platforms, or tofts, are clearly visible throughout the site fronting onto the hollow ways; they range in size from 15m x 20m to 40m x 15m. Small enclosures or yards (known as crofts), can also be identified running behind many of the tofts, especially in the field surrounding ‘Reddings’ and the field around the C19 barn. Some of these fields still contain evidence of east-west ridge and furrow.

Directly to the south of the present hamlet of Crafton, opposite Crafton Farmhouse, are two small ponds which map evidence indicates were present in 1798. These are considered to be the remains of medieval fishponds associated with a manor at Crafton, of which there were known to be two. The extremely large, deep pond in the field directly to the south of the two older ponds is a later addition; it appears for the first time on the 1885 OS map.

As the fields in Crafton were enclosed and agricultural practice turned from arable to pasture, various enclosure ponds were inserted and later infilled in fields across the site. It is possible that some of these ponds are abandoned brick pits as the land here is of thick clay. There are seven such ponds in the area of the medieval settlement of Crafton. They are excluded from the scheduled area, but the fishponds are included.

In the field to the east of the ponds (just south of Crafton hamlet), are a series of banks running north-south and terraces up to 60m in length (north-south) and between 20 and 25m wide (east-west). One of these banks is now a field boundary with a hedge growing on top of it. It is thought that these banks and terraces may be the remains of a further flight of fishponds or a garden or enclosure associated with a manorial or later site. The 1798 and 1851 maps show a series of buildings in these fields.

To the west and south of Reddings, in the field containing a C19 barn, are earthworks which indicate medieval field boundaries. Here, the east-west-running ridge and furrow measures approximately 6m in width. This ridge and furrow is immediately associated with the tofts and crofts of the settlement. Three such east-west running strips survive to the south of the site of Reddings as individual plots on the 1798 enclosure map and one is also depicted in the field to the north. They survive on the 1885 OS map only as degraded tree and hedge-lines.

Extent of Scheduling

The scheduling aims to protect the core of the medieval settlement including the fishponds and a sample of the surviving field systems most closely associated with it.

The scheduling boundary starts at the north side of the driveway immediately to the north of Stud Cottage. It does not include Stud Cottage or Crafton Stud Farm. The boundary then travels west along the fence line, excluding the fence, and includes the fields opposite Stud Cottage now containing a C20 farm building. The scheduling boundary continues to the north, following the eastern boundary of this field eventually turning west to the western edge of the conservation area (as at 2010). From here the boundary extends along the fence line, excluding the fence, to the north, past the public footpath, and including the field with the C19 barn. When it reaches the corner of the field at the westernmost end of Crafton hamlet (just south of the east-west road), it turns east. The scheduled monument does not include the land to the north of the road running through the hamlet. From here the scheduling boundary travels east along the fence line, excluding the fence, and along the southernmost boundary of the properties on the south side of Crafton hamlet. It does not include the rear gardens of these properties. The boundary follows this line eastwards until it meets the road. Here it travels south along the verge of the road, incorporating the fields to the west until it meets the first of two driveways leading into Reddings. It travels along the northern edge of this driveway and follows the northern line of the buildings and fences separating this area from the fields beyond. It then follows the edge of the gardens south - a ditch here is within the scheduled area. At the southern end of the garden the boundary line turns east and follows the fence line, excluding the fence, until it again meets the road, from whence it continues along the hedge-line southwards until it arrives at the driveway just to the north of Stud Cottage.

All built structures, fence posts, gates, gateposts, services, any make-up of footpaths, enclosure ponds, underground septic and gas tanks and telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath and any ground around or above is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The medieval settlement at Crafton, its fishponds and representative samples of its associated field systems are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: the earthworks of the medieval settlement survive well and contain a varied range of features such as building platforms, crofts, enclosures and trackways relating to the occupation of the site. The fishponds within the settlement and field systems to the west of the settlement also survive well and directly relate to the settlement;
* Potential: the medieval settlement and fishponds are un-excavated and undamaged and have the potential to provide evidence to increase understanding of the character and occupation of the medieval settlement; the field systems relating to the settlement have the potential to increase knowledge of farming practices during the medieval period;
* Group value: the field systems to the west of the medieval settlement and the fishponds within it directly relate to the medieval settlement, forming a coherent complex.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Buckingham, (1925), 449-458
Beresford, MW, Hurst, JG, Deserted Medieval Villages , (1971)
Reed, M , The Making of the English Landscape: The Buckinghamshire Landscape, (1979)
Lewis, C, Fox, P M, 'Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report 8' in Medieval Settlements In Buckinghamshire And Leicestershire- An Interim Report, (1993)
Pickburn, J, 'Architectural and Archaeological Society for the County of Buckingham' in Buckinghamshire:Or Papers and Notes on the History, Antiquities and Architecture of the County, (1858)
Other
Air Photo OS/93598B frame 251, 17 October 1993 (© Crown; from the National Monuments Record),
Air Photo OS/94368 frame 028, 24 October 1994 (© Crown; from the National Monuments Record),
Air Photo RAF/541/340 frame 3278, 26 July 1949 (© English Heritage; from the National Monuments Record),
Air Photo RAF/543/1426 2F42 frame 0441, 28 August 1961 (© Crown; from the National Monuments Record),
Air Photo RAF/CPE/UK/2139 frame 3271, 3 June 1947 (© English Heritage; from the National Monuments Record),
Air Photo RAF/CPE/UK/2483 frame 3175, 10 March 1948 (© English Heritage; from the National Monuments Record),

Source: Historic England

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