Medieval Akeld : Layout Of The Village
The earliest mapping covering Akeld is also contained in the Grey survey and rental of the Wark and Wooler baronies discussed above. The manuscript volume contains a curious series of maps depicting four large parcels of land in outline at Akeld. These are difficult to interpret unambiguously, particularly as there is no other detailed map for Akeld before a Bell Survey of 1822 (NRO ZAN Bell 55.1) and the tithe map drawn up in 1840. However the outline of the common is clear enough and a large open field on either side of the Glen can be restored in the modern field layout.
The earliest clear map evidence of the settlement as a whole is provided by Armstrong's map of 1769 which shows a small village on the south side of the Wooler - Kirknewton road, with a ruin (probably the early 16th century bastle house) situated at its southern end. By the time detailed mapping becomes available, in the early-mid 19th century, the field pattern has been clearly extensively reorganised, and at first sight little remains of the medieval pattern. However a series of five-six narrow croft-like enclosures, aligned west east, survive on the east side of the village, between Akeld Manor and the bastle house. They appear on all the historic maps, and are shown with particular clarity on the 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey.
Picture: Akeld Bastle, Manor and Farm
It is reasonable to suppose that these crofts relate to a series of tenant holdings laid out on a north-south alignment perpendicular to the main Wooler-Kirknewton/Milfield road. To the north the continuation of the row may have been swallowed up by Akeld Manor farm (unless this was the site of the medieval capital messuage of Robert and William of Akeld). There may also have been a corresponding row to the west, backing on to the Akeld Burn, which has been obliterated by the later farm complex. Such an arrangement, whereby the village was for the most part laid out along one side of the burn, on a north-south alignment perpendicular to the main Wooler-Kirknewton/Milfield road, is remarkably similar to the layout of Kilham, for example.
To the northwest, on the other side of the burn, a chapel with a burial ground was apparently bisected by the road to Kirknewton. The original course of the Kirknewton road perhaps ran further south. The site of the original manor house, or capital messuage, of Robert and William of Akeld cannot be identified with certainty, but the most plausible candidate is perhaps the site of the present Akeld Manor House, where Grundy suggests the core of the building is older than the late 18th-century exterior.
The alternative candidate, the bastle house, appears to relate to the smaller of the two manorial holdings into which Akeld was divided by the late medieval period, and perhaps represents a new capital messuage site, established by the Wallis family in the early 16th century, from which to preside over their quarter of the township.