Rural settlement

The dramatic changes in agricultural practice experienced during the Post-Medieval period was coupled with the creation of new estates from former monastic land, and the reconstruction of many high-status homes in the North West in response to changing living requirements amongst the ruling class. The ‘trickle-down’ effect also brought about the widespread remodelling and rebuilding of yeoman-class dwellings and farmsteads, and studies of dated stone buildings in particular have shown that the replacement of timber or clay structures gained momentum from the late 17th century (Nevell and Walker 1998).

The original Resource Assessment noted that some very valuable thematic studies of Post-Medieval farm buildings had been completed, such as the clay dabbins on the Solway Coast (Jennings 2003), and several other studies of farm complexes, particularly in Cumbria. There had also been a plethora of surveys of barns in advance of residential conversion, a trend that has continued apace subsequently, especially in Lancashire and Cumbria.

Photograph of a stone barn building
Petty Hall barn in Orton, Cumbria, is a fine example of an 18th century bank barn that was surveyed prior to a proposed conversion (courtesy of Greenland Archaeology)

There have also been numerous surveys and excavations of Post-Medieval halls, farm complexes and rural cottages carried out across the North West, many of which have yielded fresh evidence for rural settlement and activity across the region. Whilst it is debatable whether any additional data can be usefully obtained from additional fieldwork projects, there is a growing need to synthesise the body of information that has been generated.

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