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HHER Number:22
Type of record:Place


Village on the Chiltern ridge

Grid Reference:TL 334 373
Map Sheet:TL33NW
Parish:Therfield, North Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Monument Types

  • VILLAGE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Area of Archaeological Significance 31

Full description

The village of Therfield stands on the highest part of the Chiltern ridge in a parish bounded on the north by the Icknield Way and on the east by Ermine Street. Part of the manor of Therfield 'was bought by Ethelric Bishop of Dorchester early in the 11th century (1016–34), and presented by him to the abbey of Ramsey. It was said that the bishop purchased it from an unpopular Dane who feared that the villagers would murder him' <1>. Ramsey Abbey owned the estate until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539.
The village surrounds a small green with the parish church to the south of the green and an earthwork castle [67] to the west; for evidence of settlement shrinkage see [1659], although this may be movement rather than shrinkage. There are other small hamlets around greens in the parish.
The place name, Derevelde/Furreuuelde in Domesday, appears to contain an Old English word meaning withered or dry, 'and the name may refer to an open stretch of dry, treeless country' <2>. This may be Therfield Heath, with its prehistoric monuments. The village itself is not dry or waterless, as it has many small ponds and more are shown on historic mapping <3>. These would attract settlement in this chalk area.

<1> Page, W (ed.), 1912, VCH Hertfordshire vol.3, Therfield parish, p276-84 (Bibliographic reference). SHT2329.

<2> Gover, J E B, Mawer, Allen, & Stenton, F M, 1938, The place-names of Hertfordshire, - p166 (Bibliographic reference). SHT3417.

<3> Tithe map and award, Therfield, 1843 (map) (Cartographic material). SHT1377.

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic reference: Page, W (ed.). 1912. VCH Hertfordshire vol.3. Therfield parish, p276-84.
<2>Bibliographic reference: Gover, J E B, Mawer, Allen, & Stenton, F M. 1938. The place-names of Hertfordshire. - p166.
<3>Cartographic material: Tithe map and award. Therfield, 1843 (map).