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Roman burials, medieval settlement remains and a later ditched enclosure east of St Mary's Church

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Roman burials, medieval settlement remains and a later ditched enclosure east of St Mary's Church

List entry Number: 1013369


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Swell

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 04-Feb-1949

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Nov-1995

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22903

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The archaeological remains east of St Mary's Church survive well as an unusual combination of features covering the period from at least the 4th century AD to the 19th century. Included within the monument are good examples of earthworks known as ridge and furrow, as well as settlement remains and an associated hollow way. The extent to which these features survive is unusual for the Cotswolds, much of which has been subjected to cultivation over many years. In this case, survival is due to the emparkment of the grounds of Abbotswood which fossilised the earlier components into a 19th century parkland landscape. Components of that landscape are also contained within the monument, in the form of the ditched enclosure and associated well. Partial excavation of the monument has produced archaeological remains and demonstrated the time depth represented. All the recorded features have been incorporated into a wider thematic survey of the archaeology of the Cotswold region undertaken by the RCHME.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Roman burials and later medieval and post-medieval remains, in the form of a ditched enclosure, hollow way, field system, associated earthworks and the Lady's Well. All are situated immediately north of the present village of Lower Swell and are set on a gentle east facing slope overlooking the valley of the River Dikler. The earliest activity to be identified at the site dates from the Romano-British period. Pottery dating from the 4th century AD along with animal bones and iron work was discovered within the churchyard near the top of the slope, during the 19th century. Similar material has been recovered from the surrounding area and is known to extend to the area around the Lady's Well, which is situated near to the eastern foot of the slope. Construction of a new aisle for the church in about 1850 also revealed Roman remains in the form of a human cremation associated with a coin of Constantine (issued between AD 312-337), together with other human graves associated with Romano-British pottery. These remains suggest the presence of a Romano-British occupation site and an associated cemetery. There is also further evidence of Roman activity in the surrounding area, including a Roman villa situated 900m to the north east; and two Roman roads, the Ryknild Street situated 2km to the west, and The Fosse Way situated 1.25km to the east. The visible earthworks at the site are all thought to date from the medieval and post-medieval periods and are situated to the north and east of St Mary's Church. These earthworks represent a hollow way, house platform, ridge and furrow and two possibly later enclosures, one of which is moated. A central feature of the site is the hollow way which has the appearance of a linear depression orientated broadly east-west. This extends for c.175m from the foot of the slope near to the Lady's Well in the east and towards the churchyard at the crest of the slope 200m to the west. The hollow way varies between 4m-5m in width, is up to c.1m deep and is flanked by banks 0.8m-1m wide and c.0.45m high. There is an extension of the hollow way to the north and north east of the churchyard, which joins the lane leading north from the present village. The hollow way marks the course of the original main road which linked the settlements at Stow and Gloucester. Historical sources record that the road was turnpiked in 1755, before being diverted following the creation of the park at Abbotswood around 1867. The original road is known to have crossed the River Dikler by means of a bridge constructed by 1741. To the north of the hollow way there is an area of well preserved ridge and furrow. This represents the remains of cultivation dating from the medieval period and includes a series of earthworks produced by ploughing. The ridge and furrow is orientated north east by south west, with ridges c.0.5m high and 1m wide and furrows c.0.4m deep and 2m-3m wide. Although once more extensive, it now extends over an area of c.4ha. At the western end of the east-west aligned hollow way, on the eastern side of the churchyard, is a platform defined by external banks c.0.75m high enclosing an area with dimensions of 20m east-west and 30m north-south. Within the enclosed area is a slight earthwork, `L' shaped in plan and which is likely to represent the foundation or lower wall levels of a substantial building. This may be the location of the mansion know from historical sources to have been constructed at `The Bowl' prior to 1515 and demolished in 1671. The mansion was initially replaced by a structure ajoining nearby farm buildings, before finally being superseded by the house at Abbotswood in 1867. At the eastern end of the main hollow way is a natural spring associated with an overlying stone structure, together known as the `Lady's Well'. The spring supplies water to the ditched enclosure 25m to the west by means of a channel 10m long and 1.5m wide. The enclosure occupies a low lying position overlooking the River Dikler to the east and north east and is sometimes known as the Lady's Well moated site. The enclosure is defined by an outer water-filled ditch 2m-3m wide and c.1m deep, enclosing a level interior, sub-rectangular in plan, with dimensions of 77m north-south, 43m east-west at the northern end and 30m east-west at the south. The enclosure is situated close to an ornamental lake and is likely to have formed part of the garden features associated with the landscaping of the grounds of Abbotswood, 700m to the north east. Immediately south west of the ditched enclosure, on the south eastern side of the hollow way is a further enclosure marked by a ditch and inner bank. The ditch survives as an earthwork 1m wide and c.0.5m deep. The bank, which is 3m wide and c.0.45m high encloses an area of c.0.25ha. This area may have been the original extent of the property associated with the adjacent Lodge. Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts relating to the modern field boundaries, along with the metalled road surface within the eastern area, although the underlying ground is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire165
The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire166
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Iron Age and Roman Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, (1976), 115
A History of Gloucestershire,
A History of Gloucestershire,
Discovery of RB cremations and graves,
Discovery of RB material around well,
Discovery of RB material during 19thC,
Extent of enclosure,
Extent of field system,
Mention mansion at 'The Bowl',
Mention name of site,
Mention possible site of manor house,
Mention Roman deposits,
Mention size of features,

National Grid Reference: SP 17532 25720


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End of official listing