Complex settlement patterns – Quarrendon and Hardmead in Buckinghamshire

In the last post on aerial photographs Quarrendon was used as an example where you can clearly see the earthworks of the site on Google Earth but can also view a range of images on Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website. This post we look in a little more detail at this and another site in Buckinghamshire at Hardmead. Both of these sites show the complexity of studying medieval settlement and matching village earthworks to documentary evidence. Both these sites demonstrate the polyfocal nature of the settlement with clusters of dwellings joined together – sometimes over quiet a distance to form a single settlement unit. Both of these sites have been extensively studies and excellent papers published in the Records of Buckinghamshire series. Readers are directed to these articles for the full story and excellent illustrations.

Quarrendon

There are three separate areas of earthworks in this area which have been given the identifications of I, II, and III in the 1968 Gazetteer of deserted village and this has continued into the modern record. They probably all represent the dispersed settlement of Quarrendon within a regional mixture of villages, ‘ends’, hamlets and farmsteads (Everson 2001). There is also extensive evidence of a sixteenth and seventeenth-century country house and landscape gardens in between Quarrendon I and II, which is recorded as partly pulled down in 1666 (Everson 2001).  Close to this area is located the remains of the church of St Peter’s. This is known from at least the twelfth century, but has a potential earlier origin perhaps back to the seventh century (Everson 2001).

Quarrendon I is the eastern most part of the settlement evidence. It is linked with Quarrendon II via an east-west hollow way. The remains are clear and can be seen from the air and on the ground. Survey work at the site has shown that the settlement was perhaps four or five farmsteads clustered around a green (Everson 2001).

Quarrendon 1 earthworks in Buckinghamshire. Copyright Google Earth.
Quarrendon 1 earthworks in Buckinghamshire. Copyright Google Earth.

Quarrendon II lies 800m to the west of Quarrendon I.  There is some evidence that there was more settlement towards the west (Everson 2001). A hollow way runs west-east across to the site of the bridge across the stream. There is a triangular green to the south of the hollow way and around this are a cluster of four enclosures but they are not clearly defined. A watching brief close to the bridge over the stream at the site recovered a large quantity of pottery including a small amount of tenth to eleventh-century pottery (Everson 2001).

Quarrendon 2 earthworks in Buckinghamshire. Copyright Google Earth.
Quarrendon 2 earthworks in Buckinghamshire. Copyright Google Earth.

Quarrendon III is located nearly two kilometres to the north-east of the main sites at Quarrendon I and II. The earthworks are not as clear as the other two sites. However the nature of the settlement looks similar with small enclosures around a potential green.

Quarrendon 3 earthworks. Copyright Google Earth.
Quarrendon 3 earthworks. Copyright Google Earth.

All the taxation records only mention a single settlement. At Domesday Quarrendon is recorded with a minimum population of 28. It is assessed with an average payment in 1334. In 1524 there are 20 tax payers but by 1543 and 1563 there are only four households recorded.

The survey work at the site seemed to show that the settlements had been deserted by the time the country house is constructed in the mid sixteenth century (Everson 2001). As part of the depopulation of the settlement at Quarrendon I there seems to be one large property. There is evidence of conversion of much of the arable to pasture. By 1540 there had been created 960 acres of pasture (Everson 2001).  In 1636 Quarrendon was described as ‘anciently enclosed and depopulated’ (Everson 2001).

The Beresford’s Lost Villages website has continued the use of three separate areas at Quarrendon, although they should be considered as all part of the same settlement. It continues calling them DMVs as they is clear evidence of a deserted medieval settlement of a size larger than a hamlet, but they should all be considered as one settlement site, with Quarrendon III being a distant outlying element to the settlement.

Hardmead

In the 1968 Gazetteer of deserted medieval villages there are two separate sites, recorded as Hardmead I and II, and these are probably two parts of a polyfocal settlement (Sheail 1971). Hardmead I is the northernmost of the areas of the settlement, and hence given the name in a number of publications and the Beresford’s Lost Villages website as North End. Please note that in 1971 Beresford termed this the East End, but this seems to be in error (Beresford 1971).  Until the 1960s there were upstanding earthworks but the area has been heavily ploughed. These earthworks represented a range of crofts around a village green (Smith 1985).  A moated site was situated to the east which is suggested to be the main manor house site.  A survey and watching brief took place at the site between 1973-4 during levelling of the earthworks, and a number of trial trenches were also excavated (Smith 1985). Pottery from the site dated from the twelfth to nineteenth century. The church of Hardmead is located between the two sites.

Hardmead 1 (North End) ploughed-out earthworks. Copyright Google Earth.
Hardmead 1 (North End) ploughed-out earthworks. Copyright Google Earth.

Hardmead II is the southern most of the areas of the settlement, and hence given the name here South End. Please note that in 1971 Beresford termed this the West End, but this seems to be in error (Beresford 1971). Again until the 1960s there were upstanding earthworks but the area has been heavily ploughed.  A further moated site at this southern end was also associated with the site of the village (Smith 1985). When the moat was destroyed pottery dating from the eleventh/twelfth to fifteenth century was recovered.
Within the tax records Hardmead is always recorded as a single settlement. Hardmead is recorded in Domesday with a minimum population of 36. This is a large population for the area and the size of landholding is greater than the surrounding area. It has been suggested that a dependant village is also included within this assessment (Smith 1985).  In 1344 the settlement pays an average amount. By 1524 there are 22 people paying the Lay Subsidy and in 1603 80 communicants are recorded (Dyer and Palliser 2005).  A 1638 estate map shows that after enclosure there were many small tenant holdings that were scattered and probably uneconomic (Smith 1985). The northern area of Hardmead appeared to shrink but then remain occupied until the mid nineteenth century (Smith 1985).  In 1802 there are three farms, an old rectory and ten cottages in the parish. Five of the cottages were on the green, presumably here at the northern end of the site. It is suggested that the southern end of this settlement had gone out of use by the end of the fifteenth century (Smith 1985).

References

Beresford, M.W. 1971. ‘A Review of Historical Research (up to 1968)’, in M.W. Beresford and J.G. Hurst (eds.) Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies: 3-75. London: Lutterworth Press. 48-49

Dyer, A. and D.M. Palliser 2005. The Diocesan Population Returns for 1563 and 1603. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 363

Everson, P. 2001. ‘Peasants, Peers and Graziers: the Landscape of Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire, Interpreted’, Records of Buckinghamshire 41: 1-46.

Sheail, J. 1971. ‘County Gazetteers of Deserted Medieval Villages (known to 1968)’, in M.W. Beresford and J.G. Hurst (eds) Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies: 182-212. London: Lutterworth Press.

Smith, P.S.H. 1985. ‘Hardmead and its Deserted Village’, Records of Buckinghamshire 27: 38-52.

 

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Currently completed counties – Buckinghamshire

Following on from the exploration of Bedfordshire in the last post, this week we look at Buckinghamshire, the next county where we have managed to assess all the deserted sites listed in the 1968 Gazetteer of deserted medieval villages.

Buckinghamshire has an early listing of deserted settlements appearing as an appendix to a paper by Maurice Beresford on glebe terriers and open-field systems in 1954 (Beresford 1953-4). This list contained 28 settlements with another 14 suspected sites – all of the 28 settlements apart from Bourton are still listed in 1968, and 11 of the suspected sites have also make the list.

There were 56 settlements listed in the 1968 Gazetteer, and since this time the number has grown. Page has highlighted this stating the 56 in 1968 became 60 by 1979, and 83 by 1997 (Page 2005: 189). This increase in numbers is set against a backdrop of large regional surveys such as that carried out on the medieval settlement of the East Midlands and the Whittlewood region as well as more focused research on specific sites in the county (Lewis et al. 2001, Jones and Page 2006). This research paints a vivid picture of a diverse range of settlements and an equally diverse set of events that leads to settlement desertion. This includes a dated desertion for the settlement at Boarstall. Here in 1645 the Royalist garrison housed in the local manor destroyed the village and church to avoid them being used by the besieging Parliamentary forces (Porter 1984). The houses were burnt within two days and the church had been demolished before 26 July giving us this rare example of a dated desertion to the actual day. However the population did not disappear, they were redistributed throughout the parish (Broad 2010).

Deserted settlements in Buckinghamshire listed in 1968
Deserted settlements in Buckinghamshire listed in 1968

 

Of the 56 settlements listed, 34 have remained classed as Deserted Medieval Villages by the website (for information on our classifications see the posting on Berkshire). Eight settlements have been classed as Deserted Medieval Hamlets – due to their smaller size. Two settlements have been classed as Migrated – purposefully moved, four are Shifted settlements – moving over time, and one settlement shows evidence of a Shrunken settlement rather than fully deserted – Upper Winchendon. Finally seven of the settlements listed in 1968 are now classed as Doubtful deserted settlements. These include Ackhampstead which appears to have never been larger than the couple of farms still present today, Caldecote in Newport Pagnell which was probably just a manorial centre, and Hughenden were it has been suggested that settlement in the parish was always dispersed.

Deserted settlements in Buckinghamshire and their classification by the website
Deserted settlements in Buckinghamshire and their classification by the website

A number of excavations have taken place on deserted sites in Buckinghamshire. Tattenhoe was one of a number of settlements investigated as part of the development of Milton Keynes and its on going expansion. (Ivens et al. 1995). The development of the city also affected sites that were not on the Gazetteer including Westbury-by-Shenley (sometimes referred to as Shenley Brook End) (Ivens et al. 1995).

Rescue excavations at Stantonbury ahead of quarrying amounted to little more than rapid recording of disturbed archaeology but revealed house platforms and pottery dating from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries (Mynard 1971). Excavations have also revealed evidence of a deserted settlement that could also be called a ‘pottery production centre’ at Olney Hyde (Mynard 1984: 56).

The landscapes of Quarrendon and Hardmead have both been subjected to more detailed survey and analyses and show the complexity of settlement in Buckinghamshire (Everson 2001, Smith 1985). Both these sites demonstrate the polyfocal nature of the settlement with clusters of dwellings joined together – sometimes over quiet a distance to form a single settlement unit. For more information about Quarrendon see Buckinghamshire County Council www.buckscc.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/archaeology/quarrendon-leas/

Buckinghamshire is certainly a county which rewards greater investigation with a wealth of evidence of different types of settlement and reasons for desertion. More information on the deserted settlements in Buckinghamshire, along with some aerial photographs can be found on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website.

References

Beresford, M. 1953-4. ‘Glebe Terriers and Open-field Buckinghamshire, with a Summary List of Deserted Villages of the County: Part 2’, Records of Buckinghamshire 16: 4-28.

Broad, J. 2010. ‘Understanding Village Desertion in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, in C. Dyer and R. Jones (eds) Deserted Villages Revisited: 121-139. Hatfield: University of Hertford Press.

Everson, P. 2001. ‘Peasants, Peers and Graziers: the Landscape of Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire, Interpreted’, Records of Buckinghamshire 41: 1-46.

Ivens, R., P. Busby and N. Shepherd 1995. Tattenhoe and Westbury: Two Deserted Medieval Settlements in Milton Keynes. Aylesbury: Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society Monograph Series no. 8.

Jones, R. and M. Page 2006. Medieval Villages in an English Landscape. Macclesfield: Windgather Press.

Lewis, C., P. Mitchell-Fox and C. Dyer 2001. Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England. Macclesfield: Windgather Press.

Mynard, D.C. 1971. ‘Rescue Excavations at the Deserted Medieval Village of Stantonbury Bucks’, Records of Buckinghamshire 19: 17-41.

Mynard, D.C. 1984. ‘A Medieval Pottery Industry at Olney Hyde’, Records of Buckinghamshire 26: 56-85.

Page, M. 2005. ‘Destroyed by the Temples: the Deserted Medieval Village of Stowe’, Records of Buckinghamshire 45: 189-204.

Porter, S. 1984. ‘The Civil War Destruction of Boarstall’, Records of Buckinghamshire 26: 86-91.

Smith, P.S.H. 1985. ‘Hardmead and its Deserted Village’, Records of Buckinghamshire 27: 38-52.