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SOUTH COWTON

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The remains of the medieval village of South Cowton. The monument is located on a low hill with the main settlement remains occupying the top of the hill and the upper part of the west facing slope. The medieval village was concentrated on either side of a wide street which curved around the hill from the north. To the east of the street at the north of the monument the settlement remains include a series of broad rectangular platforms with the long axis fronting onto the street. These platforms, known as tofts, are up to 15 metres wide and 30 metres deep. To the rear of the tofts is a trackway which formed a back lane to the rear of the properties. To the west of the street there are further tofts occupying terraces cut into the slope. These building platforms follow the curve of the street around the hill and are interspersed with irregular enclosures and yards. At the south end of this series of earthworks is the remains of a fishpond. This is a rectangular hollow 32 metres east-west by 20 metres north-south. A further hollow way lies to the east of the pond and has tofts lying to the south side of it. Surrounding the village are substantial earthwork remains of ridge and furrow which lie on top of the hill beyond the back lane, behind the tofts and in the south west of the monument. South Cowton is first recorded as a settlement in the Domesday survey in 1086, although it has been suggested that it dates to the Saxon period. The size and form of the village suggests that it was a flourishing agricultural settlement in the medieval period, although the village probably went into decline after the Black Death and raids by Scots in the 14th century. By 1517 the village was depopulated. It is likely that a combination of poor harvests, the Wars of the Roses and the enclosure of land for sheep-rearing in the 15th and 16th centuries was the cause of this desertion. Scheduled.

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