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SUMMARY OF HISTORY OF SETTLEMENT

The distribution of field walked finds seems to show that the settlement of Bingham from prehistoric times until the 20th century passed through several quite distinct stages.

  • A flint flake considered to be Lower Palaeolithic in age shows that a human species, either Homo heidelbergensis or H. neanderthalensis hunted in the area around Bingham more than 250,000 years ago.
  • During the Late Upper Palaeolithic period, which ended around 9,500 BC, there is evidence that Homo sapiens hunters passed through Bingham, but no evidence of anyone living here.
  • During the Mesolithic period, from 9,500 to 4000 BC hunter-gatherer groups lived mostly around the lake in the north of the parish, but were most likely to have been seasonal visitors.
  • The first permanent settlers established themselves in the south western corner of the parish during the Earlier Neolithic, around 4000 BC. From then until the Bronze Age these farming communities periodically moved their settlements into new areas. The population increased so that by the middle Bronze Age a significant proportion of the available land in the south of the parish and on Parson’s Hill in the north had being utilised.
  • Possibly in the Late Bronze Age, but certainly in the early Iron Age, about 750BC, permanent, stable settlements were established in several places in the parish, some of which were the focus for occupation sites for the next 1500 years. They were part of a well-settled Late Bronze Age/Iron Age landscape of scattered settlements, farms and fields covering all South Nottinghamshire.
  • The Roman occupation, which began in AD50-55, had a major influence on the local economy. The Fosse Way was built and the small garrison at Margidunum, at the edge of the parish, became the focus for the growth of an important small town with a flourishing hinterland of villas, large and small farms scattered about the parish. Much of the land seemed to have been cultivated, probably to grow cereals.
  • There is evidence of economic decline in the late 4th century. By the 5th century AD, when the Romans had left these shores, some of the larger farms and settlements that had flourished during the Roman occupation continued at first under British, then Anglo-Saxon occupation, but the small farms that emerged in Roman times appear to have disappeared. Agriculture changed from predominantly arable to stock rearing with much of the parish returning either to pasture or woodland.
  • Major changes in land use are evident in the 9th century. Prior to that the distribution of pottery was close to the Anglo-Saxon settlements, suggesting that arable agriculture was limited to fields close to the settlements. From the late 9th century the pottery scatters gradually covered all the potential arable land.
  • Field walking suggests that during this period the sites around the margin of the parish that had been the focus for settlement since the early Iron Age or before were no longer inhabited. Throughout the Midlands there are indications that village nucleation had taken place by the 9th century and open field farming had started. Evidence from the distribution of finds suggests that this also happened in Bingham.
  • Bingham village was almost certainly present in the 10th century and may have had much older roots.
  • There are indications in the scatters of 12th century finds that farms were either re-established at Margidunum and Granby Lane, two of the sites that had been the focus of settlement since the Iron Age, or that they had never gone away.
  • By the early 13th century the last remaining wood-pasture that had been recorded in the Domesday Book had gone.
  • During the 13th- mid14th centuries there is evidence of at least five farms distributed around the parish margin. These are at Margidunum, Parson’s Hill, Granby Lane, Lower Brackendale and Saxondale roundabout. One other site in south Spring Farm is a possible farm, but is difficult to interpret. Thus, in the period up to the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century there was a flourishing village of Bingham at the centre of the parish and several small farms spread around the parish boundary.
  • As a result of the Black Death large areas of the parish were either converted to pasture, or reverted to woodland or waste. Those areas in the north of the parish did not return to arable cultivation until the 20th century.
  • The first of the parish boundary farms to disappear was the one on Parson’s Hill in the second half of the 14th century. By the end of the 15th century all of the others had gone and the population of the parish was concentrated in Bingham itself. Other changes happened at this time, seeming to coincide with a change of ownership of the parish. The management of the agricultural land in the Bingham manor changed in the late 15th century to reflect the concentration of the population in the town itself and village dumps were established on common land for the disposal of domestic waste.
  • More changes occurred at the end of the 16th century, again coinciding with a change of ownership. At this time parts of the arable open fields were enclosed and converted to pasture. The largest of these was the southern half of East Field (now Starnhill Farm). Also, meadowland in what is now Brocker Farm and some of the demesne land along the A46 near Margidunum were divided into smaller parts, possible either to improve grazing or to introduce a rotational system of grazing to arable.
  • Open field farming remained in Bingham until general enclosure in around 1680-90, though piecemeal enclosure, mostly in the north of the parish seems to have taken place from as early as the 12th century. Enclosure of some of the common grazing did not happen until the latter part of the 18th century.
  • Bingham remained a centralised farming community in which the tenant farmers worked from homesteads in the town itself until the second half of the 18th century when farmhouses and farm workers’ cottages started to be built out in the fields. The trend culminated in the 1960s when the last farm operating from the town centre was moved out of town and cows were no longer driven along Long Acre for milking.

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