Extensive Urban Survey - Surrey

Surrey County Council, 2006

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Surrey County Archaeological Unit
Heritage Conservation Team Surrey County Council
Room 340, County Hall
Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames

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Surrey County Council (2006) Extensive Urban Survey - Surrey [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000264

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The EUS had two phases: data compilation and assessment. Data compilation comprised the drawing together of archaeological, historical and historic built environment information. The assessments present the information acquired during data compilation in a report containing a history of the town, an account of the town's archaeology and identifying the main archaeological components of the town. Although the assessments used historic building data throughout, particularly in describing the town's development and identifying components, they do not provide a description or characterisation of the towns historic built environment.

The Surrey EUS does not contain specific strategy sections or supplementary planning guidance. The strategic management of the urban archaeological resource is achieved by using the EUS to frame Local Development Framework policies and inform development control decisions. The research background is provided by the pubished local and regional Research Frameworks.

The present survey is intended to provide an up-to-date view of the archaeological resource in each of the towns studied and consists of three phases: data collection, data assessment and strategy. The first stage, data collection, incorporates the acquisition of new data and its amalgamation with existing knowledge of the history and archaeology of the town. The data is acquired in a form suitable for its incorporation into the Surrey Sites and Monuments Record. The data assessment phase of the survey lead to the production of this report which presents a history of the town, an analysis of the plan of the town, an assessment of the archaeological and buildings data and the state of modern development resulting in the identification of areas of archaeological importance. Information about the development of the town through the ages, including analysis of its plan and the identified areas of archaeological importance, is also presented in a series of maps at the end of the report.

The Strategy phase of the survey, uses the information presented in the Data Assessment combined with current statutory and non-statutory constraints, and present and future planning policy to make recommendations for policies regarding the historic environment. The policies may be incorporated into Local and Unitary Development Plans, non-statutory policies, supplementary guidance and for use within development control.

The project faced a clear difficulty in knowing which towns to include, as there seems to be no agreed definition. Historically, towns in Surrey have always been small because of the proximity of London and the generally poor quality of the County's land for agriculture. This fact is masked now by the considerable expansion of many towns and villages following the coming of the railway in the later 19th century. The main problem, in the absence of an absolute measure, is in deciding where to draw the line. This ought, in principle, to be established by comparing the evidence from towns, as defined by O'Connell in 1977, and that from other large settlements or villages.

Unfortunately archaeological investigation of Surrey's towns has been relatively limited in scope, and villages have been even less well served. In these circumstances comparisons are rather hard to draw. The evidence from the villages is consistent with that of the towns in suggesting that their development belongs to the period from the 12th/13th century onwards. Surrey's towns are not, generally, greatly different from the villages in the quantity of evidence they produce and this is undoubtedly because they differ little in size. The town, with its market, had an economic status denied to the village, but in Surrey all the inhabitants of both lived in immediate proximity to their fields. There was probably the same lack of distinction between town and village in the medieval period as there is in their excavated evidence or plans revealed today.