Alnham : Field System
The township’s arable and meadowland principally comprised four large common fields in 1619 (cf. Dixon 1985, II, 25), located to the north, south and east of the village, namely Northfield (312 acres), Eastfield (180 acres), Middle Field (171 acres) and Southfield (238 acres).
A further block, consisting of 70 acres of demesne arable, lay adjacent to the manor house. Beyond that, to the south west of the village, was a further large parcel of land, embracing 168 acres of ‘Alnham oxe pasture’, labelled Milne Waye (i.e. Mill Way) and Castle Field. A watermill was located the south west corner of this ‘parcel’ beside the Hazeltonrig Burn.
It is clear that some of the land in 1619 was still held and presumably cultivated in the narrow strips, or riggs, typical of medieval cultivation patterns. Those held by freeholders show up particularly clearly on Norton’s map, being shown in white as opposed to the great mass of green denoting the ploughland and meadow held by the Percy estate’s tenants-at-will.
However many strips appear to have been amalgamated to form larger plots. In some cases these preserve the inverted S-form characteristic of medieval ridge and furrow, caused by ploughing with long teams of oxen which required a wide turning circle, but other plots had been formed into larger, squarer fields.
Amongst the field names, two adjacent enclosures labelled ‘Abbott acres’ and ‘Nynelandes’ (i.e. Nun lands?), lying on the eastern edge of Northfield, hint at possession or lease by monastic institutions at some stage prior to the Dissolution. Alnwick Abbey, in particular, is known to have held 24 acres of land (i.e. the equivalent of one bondage or husbandland) in the township from 1329 (NCH XIV (1935), 576; Cal Pat R 1327-30, 449).