An attempt is made, here, to analyse the data collected by field walking on a parish-wide basis in order to come to some conclusions about the history of settlement of Bingham and the patterns of land use over time. Using field walked data this way is not without difficulty. There is no certainty that scatters or clusters of material found in the plough soil have a direct relationship with what lies beneath in the subsoil. All of the area surveyed to the south of Bingham and much to the north is inclined and will have been subjected to solifluction. Elsewhere alluviation will also have had an impact on finds distribution and in the whole of the parish there will have been some redistribution of material in the top soil directly from ploughing.

In general terms it is assumed that scatters of pottery sherds are indicative of arable farmland and clusters are thought to be near habitation sites. The scatters came about primarily from the distribution of farmyard manure (Jones, 2004) and following guidelines laid out by Jones (2004) in the Whittlewood study the highest densities of Medieval finds within a scatter are assumed to be in closest proximity to farmsteads or settlements.

The Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon pottery scatters are highly localised with most of the parish being devoid of pottery of those ages. Whether or not these localised scatters are directly indicative of a settlement site or the infields is not known for certain, but it is assumed that they do indicate the proximity of settlement. With the Roman material it is more difficult because there are scatters with local clustering throughout the parish. High densities of finds near Margidunum are interpreted as indicative of settlement, but in the hinterland this cannot be assumed. There are three instances where Roman pottery coincides with crop marks that suggest enclosures associated with settlement:

  • At Lower Brackendale Farm there is a tight cluster of five sherds over enclosure crop marks
  • At Starnhill Farm over 60 Roman pottery sherds are concentrated in a small area adjacent to crop marks indicating a double-ditched enclosure
  • On Parson’s Hill six widely spaced Roman pottery sherds are sited on a complex of crop marks indicative of ditches, enclosures and possible houses.

In other parts of the parish, clusters and scatters similar to these provide no additional evidence that a site may have been occupied and are almost impossible to interpret.

Documentary evidence is available for the late 16th century onwards to show that Bingham village was the only place in the parish where anybody lived until the late 18th century. Thus, for the period to the end of the 19th century other reasons for the appearance of pottery clusters are assumed. These include inclusion of domestic waste in village dumps and in small, private dumps of night soil, either prior to distribution on arable land by farmers or in the corner of a small field by a tenant who is using that field for this purpose.

Demonstrating continuity of activity in any one site is also difficult. Most of the flint tools and pottery ware types have long and sometimes overlapping time ranges. Identifying gaps of as little as fifty years is virtually impossible. Thus, although there may be continuity of ceramic styles at a site there may not be continuity of occupation or any other kind of activity there.

Throughout, it has to be borne in mind that this analysis is based on a 10% survey and that there are limitations to the accuracy of the identifications. This is particularly pertinent to the Post Medieval pottery, which has been subjected to little detailed research. The main approach taken is to analyse the patterns among the scatters of pottery sherds and other items found and to find models that fit them. There may be other models unknown to the authors that also fit them and for this, among other reasons given above, any conclusions reached can best be regarded as working hypotheses to be tested with further research.

Data sources
The main data sources that are used here are:

Information on individual finds and their distribution
1922 land use survey
1883 O.S. six-inch topographic map
Tithe map of 1841
The Sanderson map, 1835
Estate survey carried out for the Earl of Chesterfield 1776
Manorial survey carried out in 1586
Parish hedgerow survey done by BHTA in 2003

Date ranges
In the analysis it has been convenient to divide time after the Roman occupation into five categories:

Open Field
850-1500, including Late Saxon, Saxo-Norman, Medieval and early Post Medieval periods
18th century

Though the end date for the Medieval period is given as 1500, for practical purposes it is c1480, when the Stapleton family acquired the Bingham manor. The Tudor-Stuart period ends with enclosure, which is thought to have taken place between 1680-1690. The modern period is usually considered to start in 1750, but we found so little pottery that we could confidently attribute to the late 18th century that the effective start date for the modern period became 1800. In general, though an attempt has been made for the period after the Roman occupation to refer to time in centuries in order to avoid the problems of definition.

Contents menu:

Iron Age
Roman period
Medieval period
Tudor-Stuart period
18th century
Modern period

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