The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland National Park\n© Simon Fraser

Greenhaugh And Tarset : Settlement

Harbottle and Newman have summarised the development of settlement in the dale during the late medieval and early modern periods (1973, 142-46, esp. 144) showing how it expanded in extent as the valley was recolonised after the crisis of the early-mid 14th century, but more particularly increased in density with the multiplication of small settlements. Henceforth the basic unit was clearly the farmstead and the distribution pattern is essentially familiar today.

In assessing the degree of change this represents with regard to previous centuries several points need making in qualification. Firstly, even taking into consideration the 13th century Iter of Wark, the quantity of documentary evidence relating to the 16th and early 17th centuries is very much greater than has survived in respect of the preceding period, for the reasons noted above. This in turn is likely to result in more placenames appearing in the latter centuries. Furthermore there was a greater tendancy in the earlier centuries to refer to settlement in terms of the administrative vills, such as Tarset or Tirsethoppe.

However there is no firm evidence that these vills were centred on a nucleated settlements in every, or even in most, cases. Tirsethoppe is much more likely to have comprised a number of (unnamed) scattered farmsteads, and mostly consisted of large expanses of upland grazing and shieling grounds. Finally, even though the density of 16th century settlement may have exceeded that of the 13th century, the extent of settlement in the main valley during the latter period does not appear to equal that of the earlier, when there was apparently a secondary manorial complex or at least a hunting lodge with a park at ‘Wainhope’ and the evidence of surnames suggests there may have been permanent settlements of some kind as far up the valley as Kielder and Belles.

Settlement may have pushed further up Tarsetdale, but even here there is no indication that Emblehope was anything other than a shieling ground in the 16th and 17th centuries, whereas there seems to have been some kind of permanent establishment there in 1360 when the ‘motte of Emelhope’ is referred to (Macdonald 1950, no. 29; Selected Sources and Surveys 1).

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