Some South Yorkshire deserted villages

This week blog comes from a campsite next to a deserted village in South Yorkshire – Wildthorpe. The Brodsworth Community Archaeology Project has been running since 2001 investigating eight parishes to the west of Doncaster. Within these eight parishes are a number of deserted settlement sites, and over the years a number of small pieces of fieldwork have been carried out at these sites.

The project is run by the Universities of Sheffield and Hull as a training excavation for their students but also as an opportunity for the local community to be involved in the archaeology of their area. For more information see Brods.

Bilham

Bilham now exists as a farm and a cluster of cottages away from the former settlement. Bilham Hall was destroyed in the nineteenth century. Test pitting has located the Hall, but no sign of the medieval village has yet been found.

Bilham. Copyright Google Earth.
Bilham. Copyright Google Earth.

At Domesday Bilham is recorded with neighbouring Hotton Pagnell so a true population is difficult to present. In 1377 11 people paid the poll tax. Over the next two centuries there is a general decline population. In 1379 there were eight being charged, in 1524 were five paid. The settlement never seems to have been very large.

Stotfold

Stotfold (or Stotfield) is today represented by a single farm. Field walking and Geophysical survey in the area directly surrounding the farm has recovered medieval pottery and a possible location of the village immediately under the present farm and in the field to north. This must have never been a settlement of any size.

Stotfold Farm. Copyright Google Earth.
Stotfold Farm. Copyright Google Earth.

The geophysical survey shows faint ridge and furrow with possible settlement to the bottom.

Stotfold geophysical survey.  Copyright Brodsworth Project
Stotfold geophysical survey. Copyright Brodsworth Project

Again this was never very sizable. A minimum population of four are recorded in the Domesday Book, a very low amount is paid in 1334, and only three people pay the Poll Tax in 1377 along with another settlement.

Wildthorpe

Part of the remains of the village of Wildthorpe are a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and now lie under the FootGolf course of Doncaster University Centre at High Melton. Trenches and test pits outside of the scheduled area suggests that the settlement does not extend to the north or the east. A geophysical survey of the settlement suggests some buildings remains – and excavations in the late 1960s did reveal building footings and 14th-15th century pottery.

Geophysical survey of Wildthorpe village. Copyright Brodsworth Project.
Geophysical survey of Wildthorpe village. Copyright Brodsworth Project.

There is limited documentary evidence for Wildthorpe. It appears in Domesday with a single priest recorded as the only population, but the lord had one plough. The last documentary reference in the tax record is 1302. Its relationship with its neighbour, High Melton is unclear. The later medieval church is at High Melton, but no priest was recorded at Domesday. Wildthorpe now lies in the parish of Cadeby, the village to the south. There are records of the settlement up until the late seventeenth century when it appears to become deserted.

More on these settlements in later additions to the website.

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