Molesworth Wind Farm Action Group
Say NO to the Molesworth Wind Farm - Bythorn, Molesworth, Keyston, Brington, Clopton, Old Weston, Titchmarsh, Catworth, Leighton Bromswold
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Grounds for Objection - The Historic Landscape

The landscape around Bythorn and Molesworth contains traces of a history that tells us what the area was like 1000 and, in some places, even 2000 years ago.

The name Molesworth indicates a settlement that was in place at least as long ago as Anglo Saxon times. The Worth element equates to wyrth, a defended settlement and the Mole element probably represents the name of the owner. Bythorn is more enigmatic, appearing as "Bierne" in Domesday Book and "Bitherne" in later charters. The most likely origin of the name is by-aern, meaning "dwelling place" and referring to a stopping place on the drove road. The Anglo Saxon word aern is often used of buildings where goods were processed, eg Bruerne (brew house), but can also refer to hill forts and other enclosures and this seems the most likely derivation in this case and is likely to be a translation from an earlier form (2).

English place-names have a variety of origins. Those which are possessive (eg Molesworth and Catworth) are generally Anglo Saxon, but descriptive ones (eg Bythorn as above) tend to be Celtic (Bronze or Iron Age) or even older.

Bythorn itself lies on a trackway that enters the village at its south eastern corner via Clack Lane and continues up Main Street and past the current green before turning behind the church and leaving via Warren Lane, where the wind farm is proposed to be sited. The green itself is almost certainly part of Middle Field, which is to the south of the Old School and was probably a pasture for cattle and sheep when the trackway became used as a drove road. The dog-leg around the church is typical of a route that has diverted round a pre-existing site of significance. This would often be at the highest point of a settlement, as is the case here (1).

There is also evidence of a track that leads up the driveway of Scotts Farm and comes out into Warren Lane just north of the entrance to the new development in the old farmyard. It is also possible that this was the original route and that the sunken lane behind the church is a later diversion. That the trackway remained as a thoroughfare for several hundred years is evidenced by the guide post marked just south of Warren Lodge on the 1950 edition of the Ordnance Survey 2.5" map. This probably dates from the time of the Enclosure at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

This route is part of a larger network of drove roads that has been traced as far as Stamford by W G Hoskins in his book Fieldwork in Local History. Parts of this network appear on what is known as the Gough Map of 1360, so it was clearly well-established by then.

The name Warren Lane reminds us that Titchmarsh Warren was sited just north of Bythorn. Rabbits are not originally native to Britain and were introduced by the Romans who corralled them in warrens and harvested their meat and fur. Up to mediaeval times and probably later, this management provided an accessible and reliable source of meat when other types of food were at risk from weather and disease. Once again, we are looking at a snapshot of a landscape that is a minimum of 800 years old.

It is also worth noting that Keyston, on the other side of the A14 from Bythorn gets its name from a contraction of Ketils Stan, a Norse name probably referring to a boundary marker on an estate owned by Viking settlers, another sign of occupation in the area some 1200 years ago. It is often assumed that Vikings simply arrived, raided and left, but there is ample evidence that many of them settled and farmed and that they did so not on captured, but rather on newly developed land (2).

1 For more on this, see Trevor Rowley: Villages in the Landscape, London 1978.
2 This is covered in more detail in Margaret Gelling: Signposts to The Past, London, 1979

18 November 2017
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    Please note that the content of this web site represents the views and opinions of the STOP MOLESWORTH WIND FARM committee and our members. Although we have tried to be as accurate as we can in relaying facts on the subject of this proposed development and the industrial wind industry in general, we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies found therein. If you believe any content to be incorrect or inaccurate please let us know.

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