Wretchwick deserted medieval settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015549

Date first listed: 05-Sep-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Wretchwick deserted medieval settlement
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 20:35:11.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell (District Authority)

Parish: Ambrosden

National Grid Reference: SP 59569 21307, SP 59785 21505


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision. Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is in general dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads, mostly of post-medieval date, set in the spaces between them. Depopulated village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.

This monument survives well despite the adjacent fields having been built over by modern development. The earthworks are known by analogy from the part excavation of adjacent platforms to contain archaeological and environmental remains relating to the construction, economy and fate of the settlement and its inhabitants.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas immediately north east and south west of Middle Wretchwick Farm, south east of Bicester, includes the remains of Wretchwick medieval village and its associated earthwork boundaries. Although divided by the present farm complex, the remains clearly represent a medieval settlement with hollow trackways dividing building platforms which vary in size from 2m by 3m to 30m by 40m. There are also a series of water management channels which vary from 3m to 8m wide and feed a series of small ponds associated with the farm. The remains north east of the farm are less regular in their layout than those to the south west and it is believed that this is the earlier core of the village, with a later more planned extension being added when dairying increased the need for more labour in the late 1400s. Wrethwick is mentioned as an estate in 1086 in the Domesday book and it is known to have had the status of a Manor by 1194. By 1274 it was owned by Bicester Priory and in 1279 the population consisted of 24 villeins and their dependants. In 1488 it was suffering from a reduced population due to the Black Death and it was depopulated by the Prior of Bicester. By 1536 the manor had been divided up into five leasehold farms and by 1791 an estate map shows only one farm present on the site. By 1881 the present land boundaries had been formed by enclosure and the next major alteration was the development to the north west in the last decade. Excluded from the scheduling are all boundary fences, the surface of the track to Middle Wretchwick Farm and all water management devices within the drains, although the ground beneath all of these features and the water channels themselves are included in the scheduled area.

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


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

Legacy System number: 28148

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Chambers, R A, 'Oxoniensia' in The Deserted Medieval Settlement at Wrethwick, , Vol. LVI, (1992), 173-6

End of official listing