Akeld : Maelmin, Milfield and Akeld Strother
One final point is worth noting in this context. Milfield does not seem to have formed a separate township before the 16th century (cf. NCH XI (1922), 243-4). Instead it seems to have constituted a detached and marginally exploited part of Akeld township known as Akeld Strother during the medieval period.
Thus in 1349 Adam Davidman of Akeld gave to Walter of Hakeford and his heirs various parcels of land in the peat moss in the vill and territories of Akeld and Akeld Strother, including half an acre of land on ‘le Milnefeld’ between the land of William Heron and that of Robert Haggerston (NCH XI (1922), 236-7 & 243 n.3).
In 1512 a Scottish force was ambushed in ‘a brome felde called Mylfeld’, a description which suggests the area was still not intensively cultivated at that date (cf. NCH XI (1922), 243). The earliest reference to an actual township centred on Milfield is provided by the border commissioners, Bowes and Ellerker, in 1541, who note ‘the towneshippe of Mylnefelde conteyneth vi husband lands plenyshed without any fortresse or barmekyn and ys of th’inherytaunce of a wedowe late the wife of Mychaell Muschiens (Muschamp) (cf. Bates 1891, 34).
It might at first seem odd that the former centre of a large multiple estate should dwindle to such insignificance, with little indication of permanent dwellings and no evidence that it developed into a township community during the high medieval era.
And yet this is precisely what our theoretical understanding of multiple estates might lead us to expect. The estate centres were extra-township, or forinsec, i.e. they lay outside the territorial framework of the numerous township communities.
A site such as Maelmin or Ad Gefrin was an administrative and ceremonial centre, where the renders from the various townships making up the estate were collected and stored, to be consumed by the royal household during its periodic visits, but probably did not represent a focus of agricultural cultivation in its own right with a discrete tract of farmland.
Hence when the administrative complex at Maelmin was finally abandoned there was probably no resident community of agricultural cultivators which could simply be transformed into a straightforward township settlement, and instead the site was completely deserted.
Ad Gefrin may have undergone the same process of complete dereliction after that palace and estate centre was abandoned in the late 7th century, as Bede suggests (HE), but it had had more time than its successor to re-emerge as a small township community by the 13th century, when the vill or ‘hamlet’ of ‘Yever’ is first mentioned in documents such as the feudal survey of 1242 (Liber Feodorum II, 1119; cf. NCH XII (1922), 241).