Medieval settlement immediately surrounding St Michael's Church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1017254
Date first listed: 09-Nov-2000
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Oct-2018 at 17:48:20.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wychavon (District Authority)
Parish: Elmley Lovett
National Grid Reference: SO 86558 69494
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 last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the West Midland Plateau sub-Province of the Northern
and Western Province, which is marked by a series of low plateaux and
escarpments, often with rather sandy soils, and great clay vales containing
alluvial and gravel terraces. Still well wooded in 1086, the area embraced
forests such as Kinver, Feckenham, Cannock and Arden. Compared with the land
to the east, the area had significantly lower numbers of nucleations and, with
the exception of the Severn valley, carried a mixture of medium to very high
densities of dispersed settlement. This included diverse hamlets, common-edge
scatters of small farms and cottages, and isolated larger farmsteads,
generally moated, many being of medieval foundation.
The Severn Slope local region contains both the sandstone ridges projecting
westwards from the main Midland plateaux and the alluvial tracts and terraces
of the Severn. It is characterised by medium to low densities of dispersed
settlement, with a scatter of villages which occupy terrace sites well above
the flood plains. Many of the villages bear names indicative of settlement in
a woodland setting in the Anglo-Saxon period.
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of the 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 buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently include the parish church within the boundaries and, as part of the manorial system, most villages include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and the archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for understanding rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval settlements were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) 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 lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs, which were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to settlement earthworks, is both a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscapes.
The medieval settlement at Elmley Lovett survives well as an area of clearly defined earthworks and buried remains of a variety of settlement features such as the toft and croft sites, the moated manorial complex and the site of the post-medieval mansion in which evidence for the nature of the settlement will be preserved. The crofts and building platforms will contain buried evidence for houses, barns and other structures, accompanied by a range of boundaries, refuse pits, wells and drainage channels, all related to the development of the settlement. Artefacts buried in association with the buildings will provide further insights into the lifestyle of the inhabitants and assist in dating the changes through time. Environmental evidence may also be preserved, illustrating the economy of the hamlet and providing further information about its agricultural regime.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Elmley Lovett, immediately surrounding St Michael's churchyard.
The settlement is located on gently undulating land upon the Keuper outcrop
of northern central Worcestershire. It lies west of Elmley Brook, which forms
part of the eastern boundary of the parish and includes the remains of a
moated site, house sites, gardens and allotments and associated hollow ways,
field boundaries, enclosures and ridge and furrow cultivation remains.
The settlement at Elmley Lovett is documented from the 9th century, and by 1086 it had a priest, ten plough teams, three mills and a large area of woodland. The settlement lay within the Forest of Ombersley until around 1230. The manor was held from the Crown throughout the Middle Ages until it was sold to Sir Robert Akton in 1543. The period of abandonment is unknown, but is thought to have been caused by the migration of the population towards the village's modern focus at Cutnall Green on the main Droitwich to Kidderminster road. The abandonment must have been advanced by the 17th century when an avenue of trees was planted over some of the earthworks of the former settlement.
Settlement remains include an area of irregular tofts, (house sites including building platforms and yards), and crofts (the allotments or extended garden plots associated with the dwellings), defined by banks and ditches, lying to the south and west of the church. The banks measure up to 1m high and 2m wide and the ditches are up to 2.5m deep. The remains of up to four tofts are defined by earthen platforms, which will preserve the buried remains of several phases of medieval domestic dwellings and their ancillary buildings. To the south of the platforms are a number of irregular enclosures, which were used for cultivation, and may have also included stock pens and sheds for animals. At least three hollow ways aligned east to west run from the modern lane across the settlement and towards the moated site and church. The hollow ways measure 0.75m to 1m deep and up to 3m wide and act both as boundaries between the crofts and as routes from the village to the main road.
The moated medieval manorial complex lay to the north of the settlement, adjacent to the church. A circular platform measuring at least 50m in diameter is surrounded on three sides by a deep wide moat, now dry. The moat survives best on the east in the space between the platform and the churchyard boundary, where it measures at least 4m wide and up to 2.5m deep. There are traces of a counterscarp bank which survives best to the north where greater effort was required to retain the moat against the falling ground level. The moated site may have been abandoned when a new half timbered mansion was erected in 1635, 200m to the south of the church. The mansion was demolished in 1890, and its location is indicated by a large, partially walled, overgrown enclosure and a nearby mound of building rubble believed to be the site of a 17th century rectangular dovecote.
The settlement was surrounded to the south and east by medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains. The ridge and furrow appears to have delineated the extent of the medieval settlement, suggesting that these areas formed part of the village plough lands.
The Church of St Michael was largely rebuilt in 1840, and the earliest surviving material is of 14th and 15th century date, although a priest is documented from 1086. The church and cemetery are not included in the scheduling.
The remains of a medieval fishpond complex which includes a chain of three or four sub-rectangular stew ponds, are documented as lying to the south east of the settlement, but these were infilled by dumping during 1986 and can no longer be located with certainty. A number of low level irregular earthworks surviving in the field to the east of the church may however, indicate their location. Immediately to the east of the track leading to the church and Church Cottage is a large raised platform thought to represent a stock enclosure or pinfold measuring 50m orientated north east to south west and aligned along the edge of the track. It is defined on the east by a low bank and hollow way and on the north by a deep wide ditch, which may have been a pond. This measures at least 5m wide and up to 2m deep.
St Michael's Church and churchyard and Church Cottage, a 17th century stone and half-timbered cottage and its gardens lying to the east of the church, are not included in the scheduling.
All modern fences, paths and surfaces 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: 30081
Legacy System: RSM
Various SMR & CAO officers, Various unpublished notes in SMR, plan description history and AP's
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