IRON WAY TRACKS.
Roman occupation did not penetrate into the Weald with permanent habitations, but Iron-Way tracks have been found.
About 500 BC iron working immigrants crossed the channel, settled mainly in West Kent, and built hill-top camps and forts as defence against further invasions. The largest of these forts, which was of 123 acres, is at Oldbury near Ightham. These camps were constructed by digging a ditch and throwing up the earth on the inside to form a rampart, and maybe top this with a wooden palisade. Over this intervening period these earth-workings have partly eroded away and leave little evidence as at Sights or Hunton.
In our immediate vicinity trackways criss-crossed the marshy river valleys. They linked the Iron Age encampments of ‘Oldbury’ to ‘Castle Hill’ near Tonbridge, to ‘High Rocks’, and back to ‘Sights’ in the bluebell woods at the bottom of Seven Mile Lane. From a Medway crossing at Twyford one track followed Benover Road across the Wealden forest through Horsemonden and Lamberhurst, whilst another went via Marden and Cranbrook to link with trackways leading to iron deposits at ‘Castle Toll’ on the Isle of Oxney, south of Tenterden.
From Benover other tracks crossed to a camp at Loose passing through earthworks on the top of Hunton Hill.
A knight named Richard Fitz Gilbert came to England with William the Conqueror, and for his services in the Battle of Hastings had large possessions in Normandy and England, including Yalding bestowed upon him. In the Domesday survey conducted in the fifteenth year of the Conqueror’s reign, the entry under “Terra Richardi F Gilberti” reads:-
“Richard de Tonebridge holds Hallinges (Yalding then), and Aldret he it of King Edward, and then and now it was taxed at two sullings. The arable land is sixteen carucates. There are two churches (i.e. Yalding and Brenchley) and fifteen servants, and two mills of twenty-five shillings, and four fisheries of one hundred and seven eels, all but twenty. There are five acres of pasture and wood, for the pannage of one hundred and fifty hogs.
In the time of King Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth thirty pounds, now twenty pounds, on account of the lands lying waste to that amount.”
Apparently the size of carucate sometimes varied depending on the quality of the land, but these 16 carucates would have measured at least 1500 acres, leaving a small area for the pannage of hogs.
INVENTORY of YALDING MANOR.
The King required an inventory of the manor on the death of Richard de Clare, formerly Earl of Gloucester and Hertford. This was made before William de Axemuth and William de Horsenden, and underwritten by Quintin de Elding, William de Horshurst, Henry de Crousort, Roger the Reeve, Thomas Partrich, Daniel at the Mill, Ralph Turgis, Walter Daniel, William de la Done, John de Lodelesworth, Roger le Bedel, and Jordan the Tailor (Jordani Cissoris).
All the various fields and woods were described as to their size, usage and value. This amounted to almost 500 acres with a value of £ 11 5s. The Court Lodge had seven acres of gardens, with a dovecote of value 2s. There were three water mills whose value is extended at 64s 7d., and a fishery over the pool that is extended at 4s. There is tenant’s rent of £ 20 8s 9d. The works and customs of the same, which they ought to do over and above their rent, are extended at 58s 6d.
‘The aid of St Andrew (which is probably aid due to the Priory of St Andrew at Rochester), is extended at 74s. The license to marry, and the carriage of writs, is extended at 12s. The rent of hens and eggs is extended at 7s 8d. And the great Bind-day (which was the time that tenants of manors were bound to give the Lord at Harvest), in Autumn, is extended at 12s 6d. There is a certain market which is called Brenchelse (ie. Brenchley whose church was anciently a chapelry of Yalding), and the assisted rent thereof is 21s 9d. The stallages and shops are extended at 24s. The pleas and perquisites of court are extended at £ 6.
The Prior of Tunbridge has the church of this manor to his own uses. The amount is £ 62 12s.’
This would indicate that Yalding Manor was no more than a third of the parish in size, and other manors were Woodfolde (now