The village, comprising a small group of houses (tofts), gardens (crofts), yards, streets, paddocks, a manor and a church, sometimes a green, occupied by a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in much of lowland medieval England, much as it is today. The Introduction to Heritage Assets on Medieval Settlements (English Heritage, May 2011) explains that most villages were established in the C9 and C10, and exhibit a variety of plan-forms, from the highly irregular at one extreme to planned villages with tofts and crofts running back from a main road, often linked with a back lane around the rear of the crofts, and typically having a church and manor house in larger compartments at the end of the village. In recognising the great regional diversity of medieval rural settlements in England, Roberts and Wrathmell (2003) divided the country into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements; these were further divided into sub-Provinces. The Northamptonshire settlements lie in the East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised in the medieval period by large numbers of nucleated settlements. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval, others may represent much older farming landscapes.
Although many villages and hamlets continue to be occupied to the present day, some 2,000 nationally were abandoned in the medieval and post-medieval periods and others have shrunken. In the second half of the C20, research focussed on when and why desertion and shrinkage occurred. Current orthodoxy sees settlements of all periods as fluid entities, being created and disappearing, expanding and contracting and sometimes shifting often over a long period of time. Abandonment may have occurred as early as the C11 or continued into the C20, although it seems to have peaked during the C14 and C15. In the East Midlands sub-Province, Roberts and Wrathmell identified that the sites of many settlements, most of which were first documented in Domesday Book of 1086, are still occupied by modern villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by earthwork remains. Research into Northamptonshire medieval villages highlights two prevalent causes of settlement change, namely the shift from arable farming to sheep pasture in the C15 and C16 (requiring larger tracts of land to be made available for grazing), and the enclosure of open fields from the late C16 through to the mid C19 for emparkment or agricultural improvement. Despite the commonly held view that plague caused the abandonment of many villages, the documentary evidence available confirms only one such case in Northamptonshire, the former settlement of Hale, in Apethorpe
The 1982 survey of Northamptonshire by the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England (RCHME) and the Northamptonshire Historic Environment Record (HER) summarise the history of the former village of Kirby, and documents the archaeological evidence for its interpretation and survival. The use of aerial photographs (English Heritage, October 2013) further enhances our understanding of the site and its extent.
Kirby is not mentioned by name in Domesday Book of 1086, but the RCHME Survey suggests that it was recorded as a small manor under Blakesley with a population of two. This manor was granted to the Knights Hospitallers in 1194. The village is first mentioned in 1316 and in 1361 the Hospitallers’ manor was described as ‘ 1 messuage and 1 carucate in Kirby’. In 1487 the Hospitaller’s tenant demolished five houses and enclosed and converted 300 acres of land to pasture. In 1547 1000 sheep were being grazed here. Bridges noted that in 1720 there was only one house left at Kirby, probably the predecessor of Hootens Farm. There has been much recent improvement to the land surrounding the site of the village. In 1999 archaeological evaluation trenches were excavated on the site of an outbuilding adjacent to the farmhouse. Four sherds of medieval pottery dating to the C10-C16 were found.
Alnwick Castle is a medieval castle and also known as the Windsor of the North as it is the second largest inhabited castle in England. The castle was first erected in 1096 after the Norman conquest but has since been remodelled and renovated a number of times. The Duke of Northumberland and his family, the Percy’s, live in a part of the castle with the remainder being open to the public in the summer months....
(2007) 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2006'.
Drumcliff is a village nestled under the foot of Benbulben just north orf Sligo Town. It is more famous now as the final resting place of W B Yeats whose grave is in the churchyard under a simple headstone with the inscription: 'Cast a cold eye on life, On Death Horseman pass by.' William Butler Yeats (pronounced /ˈjeɪts/; 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and dramatist and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and English literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and together with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, and served as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarde...
Glendalough Monastic Site - Megalithic Ireland
In this essay Gearoid Phelan explores the Medieval moated sites in Ireland. Gearoid is currently working on a PhD at the University of Limerick in Modern Irish Republicanism; though his historical interests include the Medieval and Early Modern periods in both Irish and European contexts. (See also )
You're very welcome to the Island Ireland directory for Irish history
Books and journals
Allison, K J, Beresford, M W, Hurst, J G, The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire, (1966)
Astill, G, Grant, A, The Countryside of Medieval England, (1988)
Aston, M, Austin, D, Dyer, C(eds), The Rural Settlements of Medieval England: Studies dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, (1989)
Christie, N, Stamper, P (eds), Medieval Rural Settlement: Britain and Ireland AD 800-1600, (2012)
Dyer, C, Jones, R, Deserted Villages Revisited, (2010)
Hall, D, Turning the Plough. Midland Open Fields;landscape character and proposals for management, (2001)
Partida, T, Hall, D, Foard, G, An Atlas of Northamptonshire The Medieval and Early-Modern Landscape, (2013)
Roberts, B K, Wrathmell, S, An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England, (2003)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , The County of Northamptonshire, (1981)
Williamson, T., Partida, T, Champion. The Making and Unmaking of the English Midland Landscape, (2013)
Northamptonshire Historic Environment Record (HER),