Maulds Meaburn (c) WDLPS, 2023
A large proportion of the village of Maulds Meaburn is a scheduled monument. The scheduling protects the earthworks and buried remains of Maulds Meaburn medieval settlement, which likely originated in the 12th century.
Originally, there was a large district on the banks of the Lyvennet called Meaburn which Roger de Morville left to his son, Hugh, and his daughter, Maud. Hugh de Morville’s portion of the estate is known as Meaburn Regis, or King’s Meaburn, after it was forfeited to the crown following his involvement in the murder of Archbishop Becket. The portion of Meaburn which was inherited by his sister Maud became known as Meaburn Matilda, or Maulds Meaburn.
The village has a regular two-row layout, which is representative of those developing in the north of England following the Norman conquest. However, there is evidence that suggests that the plan of the village is a careful adaptation of a generic type to a specific site, due to the area’s particular geomorphology.
The plan of the medieval settlement of Maulds Meaburn is of a type familiar to this part of Cumbria in which two parallel lines of tofts (house plots) with crofts (garden areas) to the rear face onto a village green. (The village green is still a common used to graze sheep.) Behind the crofts were narrow back lanes and at Maulds Meaburn the north-south axis of the village green is paralleled by back lanes to the west and east. Beyond these back lanes lay the communal open fields where the crops were grown, while to the south the village green broadened out into a driftway leading south-eastwards to the common land where the cattle would have been grazed.
Where not covered by post-medieval buildings, the well-preserved earthwork remains of the medieval settlement consist of abandoned tofts and associated earthwork enclosures which pre-date the existing post-medieval field system. There are also the remains of ridge and furrow behind some of the back lanes (evidence of arable cultivation). Most of the farmsteads that are now extant in the village date to the 18th and 19th centuries.
Maulds Meaburn has had a mill on the site since the 13th century. It has been rebuilt, including in 1690, indicated by a datestone with the Lowther crest (but has now been converted into a private dwelling). Historic Ordnance Survey maps label it as a ‘Corn and Saw Mill’.
On the east side of the green are the earthworks and buried remains of a former mill race. This feature still carries water for part of its length and runs northwards from a weir for approximately 100m before a short diversion takes the water back to the river. From here the mill race survives first as an earthwork, then as a buried feature, before become evidence again as a short length of earthwork immediately adjacent to the mill. Evidence of a tail race survive to the north of the mill, which would have once returned the water back to the River Lyvennet.
Maulds Meaburn survives as a simple, functional and largely undeveloped rural settlement.
Brian K. Roberts, ‘Art. V – A Field Survey of Maulds Meaburn, Westmorland’ in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2, vol 96 (1996)
Historic England, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1018934