Alnham : Potential For Further Research
The quality of map evidence coupled with surpasses that of any other village in the study. In addition there is a good sequence of 13th -14th century inquisitions and exceptionally detailed information in the Percy estate records, including 16th and 17th century surveys. Mayson's early 17th century survey is accompanied by the finest (and largest!) map or plan encountered during the course of the Historic Village Atlas Project - Robert Norton's plan of 1619.
Together these provide a more detailed history than is possible in many of the other villages studied. However the potential of this source material, particularly that housed in the Duke of Northumberland's records at Alnwick Castle, has not been exhausted and would repay more intensive study.
The position of the early modern layout of tofts and crofts in relation the the modern roads and village can be precisely determined by reference to Norton's plan of 1619 and, in particular, the map associated with the late 18th century Inclosure Award, which shows the earlier crofts in relation to the post-enclosure roads and fields.
The medieval and early modern village was located between the church and the two farms to the southeast, Castle Farm and Pennylaws. It had a compact, roughly triangular layout consisting of three rows, one south of the Aln where earthworks can still be clearly traced. There is no cartographic, documentary or earthwork evidence for the presence of medieval/early modern settlement in the area of Alnham House, to the east of the medieval village core, or along to the road to Scrainwood where the cottages built in 1800 are strung out.
Whilst the earthworks on the south side of the burn, below the castle, are very evident, it would be difficult for the casual or uninformed observer today to appreciate that there had been a village containing numerous houses and crofts in the fields immediately to the east of the church. This is salutary reminder of the dangers of using the Ordnance Survey 1st edition as the basis of any investigation of a historic village, particularly in north Northumberland, where the transformation into integrated farm complexes has been so thorough.
The open field systems outlying settlements and assarts, watermill sites and moorland trackways with waymarker crosses can all be traced from the historic map evidence. One watermill is clearly shown on Norton's map, at Hazeltonrig to the south west of the village. The location of a second, at the eastern edge of the township, is suggested by fieldnames on the 1619 map. No mill building is shown at this point and it must be presumed that it had either already ceased to exist by this time or lay just outside Alnham township in neighbouring Unthank township, which is not depicted on Norton's map.
Picture: Remains of masonary from Alnham Castle