Lillingstone Dayrell: fieldwalking
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The modern settlement of Lillingstone Dayrell comprises half a dozen properties, but in the Middle Ages was a sizeable community. The church now stand isolated from all other properties with the exception of Manor Farm. The field to the south-west of the church is currently being ploughed. Named 'The Warren' on the 1611 estate map, this was the site of the former manor house and the main population centre. House platforms and wall are currently being ploughed away. In the autumn of 2000 this field was systematically walked to recover artefactual evidence. This has now been plotted and the development of the settlement over time can be traced with precision. This chronological sequence is presented here.
Thin scatters of RB wares were found across the field with no discernable patterning or obvious concentrations. This random scatter is indicative of former ploughland and might be seen as such at this period.
Early Medieval Period
The origins of the village appear to lie in the early medieval period. Plotting of per-conquest material identifies the early focus of the village along the straight track running from the main road to the church. This is clearly an important axis, one that was to dictate the morphology of the village throughout its existence.
Following the conquest, the village expands remarkably. By plotting the different pottery types it is possible to trace this expansion. The focus of the settlement remains on the site of the early medieval village, but two further foci are added, one to the west of the original centre and the other to the south-east.
The everyday miscellaneous Sandy wares show that a second axis is added, perhaps a second village street, running south of, but parallel to, the original track leading to the church.
The most commonly encountered pottery, locally produced from 1250, shows the form of the village at its height. Not only is the second axis the most important, the concentration of material abutting the main road to the west suggests that houses were fronting onto this road. Interestingly, there is little evidence at this period for settlement on top of the original village site.
Late Medieval Period
In the later middle ages, the settlement begins to contract, a process which was ultimately to lead to the settlement's current condition. This appears to occur at the time when many other settlements have been shown to be reducing in size. Oddly, the settlement was to contract back to the original settlement focus.