Skip to main content


Please read our .

Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 279
Date assigned Saturday, February 8, 2003
Date last amended Thursday, April 15, 2004


REASONS FOR DESIGNATION 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 last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the West Midland Plateau sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, which is marked by a series of low plateaux and escarpments, often with rather sandy soils, and great clay vales containing alluvial and gravel terraces. Still well wooded in 1086, the area embraced forests such as Kinver, Feckenham, Cannock and Arden. Compared with the land to the east, the area had significantly lower numbers of nucleations and, with the exception of the Severn valley, carried a mixture of medium to very high densities of dispersed settlement. This included diverse hamlets, common-edge scatters of small farms and cottages, and isolated larger farmsteads, generally moated, many being of medieval foundation. The Upper Trent and Dove local region is marked by varied terrain. The alluvial tracts and terraces of the Trent and Dove mask a core clay lowland, with Needwood Forest forming the watershed, while to the north and south are the rising lands of Cannock Chase and the southern Pennines. It has low densities of nucleated settlement, and medium and high densities of dispersed settlement. Place names indicate much woodland in the early Middle Ages. 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 distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large unenclosed open arable fields. These fields were subdivided into strips which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen produced long wide ridges, and the resultant `ridge and furrow' is the most characteristic indication of the open field system. Well-preserved `ridge and furrow', especially when found in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive feature of the historic landscape. The remains of the medieval settlement and associated field system at Ballidon are well preserved. In addition, an Anglo-Saxon charter and other medieval documents have provided the historical context for these remains. DETAILS The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of a medieval settlement at Ballidon and the well-preserved remains of its associated field system. It lies in two separate areas of protection. The village's history is well documented. An Anglo-Saxon estate charter defines land at Ballidon granted by King Edgar in AD 963 to one Aethelferth. The estate consisted of 5 hides (units of land equivalent to the amount needed to keep a family self-sufficient) and had been in royal hands. It later became a chapelry of the early parish centered on the minster of Bradbourne. The extent of the land granted in this charter corresponded broadly to the extent of the civil parish of Ballidon in 1866. Ballidon appears in the Domesday Book as Belidene and the place name appears to mean `the valley shaped like a sack', which is a good description of its topography at the head of a steep sided valley. The remains of the earlier village survive as earthworks lying over two areas to the east and west of the road leading into the centre of the present hamlet from the south. The first area, to the east of the road, has a small, restored, Anglo-Norman bicameral church at its centre. To the north of the church (which is Listed Grade II) there are the earthwork remains of at least three farmhouses, each in its own enclosure. There is a vestigial enclosure around the church itself. A hollow way goes up the hillside from the church heading eastwards towards Brassington. To the south there are the remains of field boundaries and extensive ridge and furrow cultivation systems. On the west side of the road, the second area has traces of an older road on the floor of the valley, including earthwork remains of farmhouses and the associated enclosures of at least two, and possibly three, small farms. Again, there is an extensive system of ridge and furrow cultivation to the west and south of the farms. There was a substantial population of farmers at the time of Domesday, with land for four ploughs valued at 60 shillings before the assessment. By 1563, a census shows as many as 90 inhabitants in the village. It is believed that the monastic grange at Roystone had partly supported this population through their hire of labour from the 12th century up until the Dissolution. The church building, all field walls and post and wire fences, as well as the surface of the trackway to the east of the church are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath all these features, including the church, is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Hodges R - Title: Wall to Wall History - Date: 1991 - Page References: 96 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Hodges R - Title: Wall to Wall History - Date: 1991 - Page References: 113 - Type: DESC TEXT

External Links (0)

Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2003. Scheduling Notification: Medieval settlement and associated field system immediately south of Ballidon village. List entry no. 1021244. SM Cat. No. 279.



Grid reference Centred SK 2038 5444 (498m by 572m)
Map sheet SK25SW

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Record last edited

Aug 21 2013 4:09PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.