Field barns

A field barn is a rectangular structure, usually built of stone, of either one or two stories, which provided shelter or accommodation for animals and a storage-place for crops and fodder; it stands as an isolated building away from a main farmstead. They are recognised archaeologically as solid, isolated buildings, often situated at the junction of field boundaries or sheltered spots.


They were built and used when cultivated land was distant from the central farmstead in order to make the working of the farm easier and more economical. The main advantage was a saving in travel and transport by enabling the hay or corn to be consumed by animals close to where it was grown and the manure deposited where it was produced.


Field barns are simple utilitarian buildings and thus architecturally have few date-specific features, although door and window openings may suggest late-18th to mid-19th century dates; sometimes there may be a datestone, most of which carry an early 19th-century date. Documentary evidence, however, suggests that isolated barns were also in use for much of the medieval and early post-medieval period.


Most sites would have been in use until relatively recently, ie. for up to two hundred years; the use of the tractor and Land-Rover in recent years, however, has reduced transport problems, silage has replaced the use of hay as fodder and artificial fertilisers have reduced the need for manure, and many field barns have thus gone out of use.


All the field barns recorded in the Buckinghamshire Historic Environment Record come from searches of nineteenth century maps, such as those at Little Horwood and Stowe.