4. Post Norman Conquest and Medieval Times

 

After the Norman Conquest Stansfield township, as it was called then  entered the historical record. It became part of the vast manor of Wakefield. The Domesday Book   refers to nine berewicks of which Stansfield is one, and 60 caracutes of land  only half of which was ploughed, implying a large amount of land was “waste” or pasture.

 

The first mention of anywhere in our locality was of Rawtenstall called “Ructunstall”  in a charter of 1238, which referred to it as a “vill”. In fact it  had become a “subifeudinated” manor within  the Manor of Wakefield (i.e. it was leased to a more minor lord who paid rent to the larger feudal manor )The original Manorial lords were the Thornhills who gave over the lease to the Saviles in the late 14c

 

The Wakefield Court rolls in 1275 refer to a John del Grenwode being fined “for the escape of three beasts into the meadow at Routunstall”. There are numerous entries in the rolls recording transfers of land and the various misdemeanors of the vill’s inhabitants and appropriate fines levied from the 13th to the 15th century.

 

There are currently three farms with the appendage “Rawtenstall”- Far, Higher and Lower. Lower Rawtenstall was probably the centre of the medieval settlement. The manor had its own manor house, manorial court and mill ( Hudson Mill) for grinding the manor’s corn/oats.  It is  difficult to ascertain how extensive this feudal manor was but ridge and furrow marks characteristic of medieval arable agriculture can still be seen above Shay bend (see photo) The settlement at Rawtenstall continued to be a substantial  one for several  centuries, as large as the one at Blackshaw Head. A large number of families are recorded as living there in the 19th century.

 

It was the warmer climate of the 12th and 13th centuries  that had enabled arable farming to take place at  all at these altitudes. However, over population, soil exhaustion, a cooler and wetter climate, and plague signalled the end of the feudal system.