There is a medieval village near to where I live. This village stood within the parish of what is now known as Croyden, but in the Domesday book of 1086 it took the old English form of Crauudene ( Crauu and Dene ) meaning Valley of the Crows.
We came across it on a walk. Trailing down the line of an escarpment, a spring, in collusion with low marshland, created the appearance of what was once a pond. A wreath of willows marked the place where a small mill once stood . At the top on higher ground, clear sky stood in place of the village’s two sentinels, the church and manor house. Nothing so grand or large given only 18 peasants were living and working the fields at this time. People who lived out their lives in one room, wattle and daub soaking up the water, that barely leached, through a moss and latticed grass carpet.
no way back
the eel catchers trap
In the 15th century wool was the new profitable enterprise. Landowners converted farmland to pasture and peasants to sheep. In 1489 William Clopton sold what was left of the village to John Fisher who together with his son began to use ‘ their considerable legal skills ‘ to force the villagers and other land owners off the land. By 1525 only 5 labourers lived at Clopton and by 1561 the village was declared extinct.
Today walking between the villagers mending their willow eel traps, the crack of split wood, voices like bird calls, unexpected, individual. The smoke rises and seeps through reed , and we reach the road. Flinching away from metal missiles to the side, hedge twigs scratch our faces and we see a fox that was hit by a car.
expired in the undergrowth