Medieval settlement at Lark Stoke
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)
- Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 19629 43717
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.
This monument lies in the Inner Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province,
an area characterised by large numbers of nucleated settlements, both
surviving and deserted, many of which are thought to have been established in
Anglo-Saxon times. Most of the sub-Province's thinly scattered dispersed
settlements were created in post-medieval times, but some of the local regions
are characterised by higher proportions of dispersed dwellings and hamlets,
which probably mark the patchy survival of older landscapes.
The Stour-Avon-Soar Clay Vales local region is dominated by village and hamlet
settlements. It was once characterised by large townfields under communal
cultivation, traces which survive as ridge and furrow earthworks. It contains
the sites of many depopulated villages and hamlets, perhaps up to one third of
the total number of such settlements which existed in the Middle Ages.
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included one or more manorial centres which may survive also as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of rural life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. The medieval settlement at Lark Stoke is well preserved with earthwork and buried remains of a variety of settlement features complemented by a series of good documentary sources. The documents and physical remains provide an outline of the development of the settlement forming the basis of a detailed academic research project which, with additional fieldwalking, has been able to provide a much wider landscape context for the settlement. Consequently the medieval landscape of largely arable common fields, small meadow areas and woodlands has been reconstructed providing detailed knowledge of the functioning of the settlement within its landscape. There are indications of earlier occupation of the valley including prehistoric worked flint debris and evidence of Romano-British occupation, which may illuminate the earliest origins of human occupation of the area and contribute to an understanding of the continuity of rural settlement in England. Part excavation at the site demonstrated that the buildings were constructed from stone, which is relatively rare among the villages of Warwickshire. Earthwork and buried remains will provide information about the relative wealth and activities of the members of the community, changing methods and forms of housing and building techniques, as well as the development of the technologies of agriculture and changing patterns of subsistence. In addition artefacts will provde dating evidence as well as information about the occupants and their daily activities; and the social activities and trading contacts of the inhabitants. The location of the remains suggests that close to the stream waterlogged deposits will survive preserving environmental and organic evidence for climate and the local flora and fauna during the history of the settlement. Excavations have shown that some skeletal remains of the inhabitants of the medieval settlement survive near the manor chapel. These and further burials will provide information about the dietary conditions, age and health of the rural population. Survival of burial goods and artefacts such as coffin fittings will provide information about funerary practices in the settlement throughout the medieval period.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Lark Stoke, its chapel and fishponds and its associated hollow
ways, field boundaries and enclosures.
The village remains, defined by banks and ditches, are laid out on either side
of a small stream valley located to the south east and south west of Lower
Lark Stoke Manor. The medieval manor house and associated buildings, including
a chapel, lay at the head of the village, up-slope from the stream. The modern
house and outbuildings of Lower Lark Stoke Manor are 16th to 17th century in
date and are Listed Grade II. The buildings are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.
A settlement at Lark Stoke is first recorded in the Domesday Survey when it
included the households of nine peasants and two slaves. The community appears
to have been heavily dependant upon arable agriculture, with documents
suggesting that over 400 acres were under the plough in a township amounting
to approximately 474 acres. A rental of 1447 shows ten tenants, although five
of these are absentees, suggesting that the village may have shrunk to five
households. Documents suggest that the village went into decline during the
15th century, with only four residents recorded in 1464 and 1522. Lark Stoke
appears to have been almost deserted by the late 15th century and has been
identified in John Rous' list of deserted villages of 1486.
The village remains include an area of irregular tofts and crofts (house sites
and their associated allotments or orchards) defined by banks and ditches
and laid out on either side of the stream. Ten tofts and crofts are clearly
visible, measuring between 15m and 30m wide with their boundary ditches
measuring 1m to 2m wide and 0.5m deep, running at right angles to the stream.
At least six tofts lie on the north west side of the stream, whilst a further
four are located across the stream to the south east. Excavation of a water
pipe trench revealed a quantity of 12th to 15th century pottery and broken
stone from the disturbed foundations of houses.
Two terraced routes enter the village across the hill from the west, and a
hollow way which lies to the north appears to be a route from the village to
its open fields. Remnants of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains
survive close to the hollow way, and a sample is included in the scheduling in
order to preserve their relationship with the settlement. To the north of the
existing house, are the remains of a further building platform which may have
been associated with the manorial complex.
The manor house lay in the north eastern part of the monument, close to the
modern house and buildings. Excavations in 1995, in advance of building work
to the south west of the house, discovered worked stone foundations and the
burials of up to nine individuals associated with 12th century pottery. This
is believed to be the site of a manorial chapel which would be expected to
stand near the manor house. The area of irregular earthworks around the modern
house are believed to represent further buried features of the manorial
complex. Modern landscaping has resulted in the tipping of additional material
on parts of the manorial site, however, it is believed that the archaeological
deposits survive intact and will be preserved beneath the modern landscaping.
Three fishponds lie adjacent to the stream, and are orientated south west to
north east. The arrangement of three ponds linked by leats is a common form in
medieval fishponds, and allowed the separate breeding and raising of fish of
different ages and types. The fishponds remain waterlogged, and despite modern
dredging, they appear to retain their medieval form and can be expected to
preserve organic remains such as seeds, wood and leather in the buried silts.
The ponds are each approximately 20m wide and 30m to 40m long, separated by
earthen banks or dams. Water is fed into the south western pond from the
stream and flows through leats into each pond before returning to the stream
at the north eastern end of the northernmost pond. The clearing of the water
course to the east of the ponds disclosed Romano-British pottery and good
quality Roman roof tiles, suggesting earlier Roman occupation of the valley.
All modern surfaces and fences, and the modern house and buildings of Lower
Lark Stoke Manor are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
them is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Warwickshire Museum Service, , 'Warwickshire Museum Service' in Admington, Lower Larkstoke Manor., , Vol. 10, (1995), 43
Dyer, C., Admington survey interim reports, 1996, unpublished interims 1990-1996
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.
End of official listing