Medieval settlement and moated site at Bruton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016923

Date first listed: 19-Mar-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and moated site at Bruton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Warwickshire

District: Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)

Parish: Admington

County: Warwickshire

District: Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)

Parish: Whitchurch

National Grid Reference: SP 20493 46420, SP 20510 46068


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. 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 wellas 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. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as landes) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or landes were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contibution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The medieval settlement at Bruton is unusual as a hamlet or small settlement in an area of predominantly large nucleated settlements. It survives well with little recent disturbance. The buried earthwork remains of a variety of settlement features are expected to preserve the remains of the domestic dwellings and the ancillary and agricultural buildings, including remains of a variety of buildings of different status, from the moated manor to the village peasant housing and possibly the poorest cottages. These 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. The standards of living and the sources of materials used in every day items will also be illuminated through examination of domestic artefacts and environmental deposits which are believed to be preserved in and around the buildings. Household remains will provide a range of dating evidence as well as insights into the range of spheres of influence, social contacts and trading mechanisms of the inhabitants of the manor throughout its history.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the moated site and settlement at Bruton within two areas of protection. Bruton was a hamlet within the parish of Whitchurch, which included four other hamlets or small villages, which either remain occupied, or have been lost. This settlement pattern of small hamlets is unusual in this part of Warwickshire where larger villages predominated. Bruton was included in surveys of the 13th century and was under the lordship of the De Valle family in the 14th century and later the Burdets in the 15th century. It is believed to have been depopulated and converted to pasture by the 16th century. The moat lies to the north of the settlement, in the gentle river valley at the confluence of the Humber Brook and a tributary. It is thought to be the original site of the medieval manor house associated with the settlement. The moat is compact, sub-rectangular and complete in the moat's circuit. It is orientated east to west and measures approximately 80m by 60m. The arms of the moat are quite uniform measuring 6m to 10m across, except on the eastern side which is wider, measuring up to 15m across. The moat appears to have been fed by a leat from the Humber Brook in the moat's south eastern angle, with an outlet returning to the river from the north eastern angle of the moat. The moat is not usually water-filled, but the entire area is subject to periodic flooding, and remains waterlogged. The moated island is raised 1m to 2m above the surrounding ground level and is undulating, with earthworks representing possible building remains in the north western portion of the island. To the south east of the moat is a large low-lying enclosure, bounded on all sides by rising ground. The enclosure includes the remnants of an extensive levelled platform, orientated north west to south east and measuring approximately 60m by 25m. Other small irregular platforms also survive to the south of the moat. These are believed to represent the site of agricultural and ancillary buildings associated with the manor. To the north of the moat a shallow hollow way measuring up to 0.75m deep and 1.5m wide runs northwards towards the confluence of the streams. The buried and earthwork remains of the medieval settlement of Bruton, within a second area of protection, lie 200m south of the road to Quinton which separates the site of the settlement from the moat to the north. The settlement also lies in the valley of the Humber Brook and its tributary. The village remains include a series of irregular house enclosures (or tofts) and gardens and allotments (crofts), laid out on one side of the stream which runs along the east side of the settlement. The village remains are surrounded on their south, west and northern sides by broad, deep ditches or hollow ways, measuring 6m wide and up to 3m deep. These hollow ways, together with the stream, define the roughly square area of the settlement, covering an area approximately 250m by 250m. Within the settlement there is an irregular grid system of banks and hollow ways which define the property boundaries. The tofts are believed to have run parallel with the stream, orientated roughly east to west. An area of irregular platforms in the centre of the settlement is thought to represent building platforms, and two rectangular buildings in particular are well- defined, measuring approximately 12m wide by 20m long. Further irregular enclosures defined by ditches are thought to represent yards and stock enclosures. The settlement is surrounded on the north, west and south sides by broad, curving ridge and furrow cultivation remains, a sample of which is included in the scheduling in order to preserve the relationship between the village and its fields. The modern post and wire fences and wooden gates and stiles which surround the moat and settlement are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 30045

Legacy System: RSM


Prof C. Dyer., Bruton, 1996, unpublished research report.
Prof C. Dyer., Bruton, 1996, unpublished research report.

End of official listing