Tarset And Greenhaugh : Conclusions
Relatively little is known of earlier Prehistoric (Palaeolithic-Bronze Age) settlement in Tarsetdale and Tarretdale. The Beakers found in association with cist burials at Smalesmouth and The Sneep and the broadly contemporary flint dagger recovered near Highfield Hope demonstrates people were living in this area during the Late Neolithic/early Bronze Age, whilst the presence of substantial Neolithic and Bronze Age burial cairns further up North Tynedale implies these individuals belonged to larger social groupings (clans or tribes?).
A settlement pattern of unenclosed settlements comprising round houses and irregular field systems is suspected by analogy with other parts of upland Northumberland, but has not so far been identified within or adjacent to the study area.
In contrast the settlement pattern in Upper North Tynedale during the Iron Age and Romano-British period is very apparent in the surviving archaeological record. It was characterised by dispersed enclosed farmsteads, initially built of timber and later largely of stone, the remains of which survive in considerable numbers. The enclosures were predominantly rectilinear in plan and contained a number of round houses.
The distribution and form of early medieval settlement in upper North Tynedale is unclear. No historical or documentary sources explicitly refer to the valley before the 12th century and diagnostic settlement forms associated with this period have as yet proved archaeologically elusive. We are largely reliant on inferences drawn from place names, church dedications and the distribution carved stonework, belonging to cross shafts and other (mainly ecclesiastical) monuments of the period, and other such scraps of evidence.
Tarset was the centre (caput) of a vast upland manor during high medieval period. The principal components of this manorial centre were the fortified manor house of Tarset Castle, a park, a fulling mill and perhaps an adjacent nucleated settlement. Only the castle is clearly evident on the ground today. The location of the park can be traced through place names. It is possible that fieldwork undertaken in conjunction with further documentary analysis might lead to the identification of additional components.
The settlement at Tarset is more likely to been a hamlet rather than the kind of village so characteristic of lowland Northumberland, inhabited by a core population of unfree tenants (bondagers) cultivating a system of open ploughfields. The manor may have had such a village at or near Charlton, however.
Greenhaugh originated as a sheiling site. It is first mentioned as such in an Inquisition Post Mortem of 1326. It may well have become a permanent settlement by the later 15th century, when it is mentioned again, and conceivably as early as the late 14th century. It had certainly achieved that status by the 16th century, by which time it probably constituted a small hamlet.
In the later medieval period feudal overlordship in the valley weakened as the liberty of Tynedale passed through the hands of a rapid succession of lords and we see the emergence of kinship-based social groups in the valley, the North Tynedale 'surnames'. These provided some measure of self protection in the disordered conditions which followed the onset of prolonged conflict between England and Scotland. Documentary evidence shows the Dodds, later the predominant surname in Tarsetdale, were already established there by the end of the 14th century.
The townships documented in the Northumberland County History (e.g. Charlton West Quarter, Tarretburn and West Tarset) were relatively late creations, established in 1729 to improve the administration of poor relief. Medieval vills, or townships, covering this area, are documented, namely Tarset and Tarsethope. Their boundaries are unclear. Some may be coterminous with later township boundaries, but it is clear that the introduction of the poor law townships constituted a significant territorial reorganisation.