Medieval settlement and park pale at East Lulworth


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017306

Date first listed: 29-Aug-2001


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and park pale at East Lulworth
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: Coombe Keynes

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: East Lulworth

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: West Lulworth

National Grid Reference: SY 84468 81879, SY 85094 83487, SY 85280 83586, SY 85650 82119, SY 85667 82900, SY 85927 82194


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 Wessex sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by large numbers of villages and hamlets within countrysides of great local diversity, ranging from flat marshland to hill ridges. Settlements range from large, sprawling villages to tiny hamlets, a range extended by large numbers of scattered dwellings in the extreme east and west of the sub-Province. Cultivation in open townfields was once present, but early enclosure was commonplace. The physical diversity of the landscape was, by the time of Domesday Book in 1086, linked with great variations in the balance of cleared land and woodland. The South Dorset local region is a diverse countryside comprising the South Dorset Downs and narrow limestone ridges and clay vales which curve around the chalk escarpments. Settlement is characterised by low concentrations of scattered farmsteads, and small villages and hamlets: ancient settlements whose arable fields were, on the evidence of Domesday Book, set among substantial tracts of pasture and woodland in the 11th century.

Despite some disturbance caused by the construction of a car park over part of the south eastern area, the medieval settlement at East Lulworth survives as a series of well-preserved earthworks and associated buried deposits which are known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the associated landscape. It is unusual in that it developed within a medieval deer park and, following the construction of Lulworth Castle, was removed in around 1790 in order to create open parkland. These represent unusual circumstances for the development and desertion of a settlement. The settlement area was subsequently incorporated into the later complex associated with Lulworth Castle. The later landscape history of the area is well documented, records suggesting several phases of parkland and formal gardens which superseded one another.

Deer parks are areas of land, usually enclosed or set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features including hunting lodges (often moated), a park keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards, few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

Despite some reduction by ploughing of some areas of the park pale at East Lulworth, nearly two thirds of the original circuit survives as an earthwork. This represents an unusually high percentage for this class of monument and it is partly due to the predominance of the woodland cover and partly to the presence of a post-17th century boundary which follows a broadly similar course. These factors have enabled much of the medieval park pale to become fossilised within the later landscape of the area. The park pale at East Lulworth formed the boundary of one of the largest and most significant medieval deer parks in Dorset. The importance of the park is also likely to be reflected in its close proximity to the hunting ground within the Royal Forest of Purbeck.


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


The monument, which falls into six separate areas of protection, includes the upstanding earthwork remains of an abandoned medieval settlement and a park pale which formed the boundary of a medieval deer park, all situated on gently undulating ground to the north of Worbarrow Bay. The medieval settlement represents the earliest feature at the site and was later incorporated within the boundary of a medieval deer park, although it continued to be occupied. During the 17th century, the park was redesigned and the boundaries revised. The landscape immediately around Lulworth Castle was altered, resulting in the area of the medieval settlement and deer park becoming incorporated within a variety of parkland and formal garden schemes. In about 1790 the settlement was removed in order to enable the creation of open parkland around Lulworth Castle. This was enclosed by a wall during the 19th century. The medieval settlement survives as an extensive series of earthworks which cover an area of about 12ha, and falls into three areas. Together these comprise a group of low scarps and banks which vary between about 0.3m to 0.7m in height and which define a series of building platforms, closes and associated fields. The main settlement area lies to the south of St Andrew's church, from where it was laid out along two axes, one to the south and another to the east. A number of dwellings are shown on a map of 1770 flanking the two streets. This area contains the remains of an extensive settlement and includes hollow ways, building platforms, closes and boundaries. To the east of the estate office and north of the medieval street is a second area of settlement containing four building platforms associated with a group of fields to the north; these are defined by parallel boundaries which run to the southern edge of Bowling Green Wood. There is also another hollow way to the west of the group. Approximately 500m to the east of Lulworth Castle is a third area of settlement, comprising an east-west alignment of sub-rectangular closes, running north-south and bounded to the south by a scarp slope. To the north a scarp separates the group from another rectangular close, itself enclosed by banks. The origins of the settlement are uncertain: the Lulvorde or Loloworde mentioned in the Domesday survey has been attributed to East Lulworth; other forms of the name are known from 12th century documents and the prefix `East' is first recorded in 1268. The settlement is recorded by J Sparrow in a survey of 1770, when it consisted of a group of structures situated to the south of St Andrew's church. The village was removed in about 1790. The deer park pale encloses a trapezoidal area of about 216ha and comprises a bank, which varies between 2.5m to 3m in width and between about 1.2m to 2m in height, flanked on either side by a ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. The ditches remain visible as earthworks between 1.5m to 3m in width and between 0.5m to 1m in depth. The earthworks are best preserved to the south west and east; elsewhere they have been intermittently reduced. Part of the western and southern boundaries have been reduced by ploughing and at the western end of the southern boundary the outer ditch is overlain by a road. The form and dimensions of the park pale suggest a probable origin during the later 13th century, when the estate was owned by the de Newburgh family. Surviving historical records confirm the presence of a deer park at East Lulworth until the early 17th century, when Thomas, the third Lord Howard enclosed an area of 1000 acres, thus doubling the size of the medieval park, but continuing to use some sections of the earlier boundary. Only one probable entrance through the medieval park pale survives as an earthwork. This lies west of centre along the southern boundary, where a break 3m wide is associated with an inturned section of bank running 10m to the north east, thereby covering the entrance from the north. Such a structure was designed to encourage deer into the park, but to help to prevent their exit. A possible medieval hunting lodge has been suggested within the area of Park Lodge, to the north, on the grounds of place name evidence. Although such an association is likely, details are obscure and no definite earthwork remains survive. To the west, a boundary surrounding Park Wood is of similar dimensions and appearance to the park pale and is thought to be broadly contemporary. The purpose of Park Wood is uncertain, but it may have been designed to attract the deer, as there is a characteristically narrow entrance at the western end of its southern side. The area enclosed by the park pale later formed part of a post-medieval parkland and supports a number of post-medieval structures which include: Lulworth Castle, the subject of a separate scheduling, St Andrew's church and St Mary's chapel (both Listed Buildings Grade I and not included in the scheduling) as well as a former 17th century stable block now converted into the estate office (a Listed Building at Grade II and also not included in the scheduling). The area of the medieval deer park forms part of a wider area registered as a Historic Park and Garden Grade II. A number of features and buildings are excluded from the scheduling; these are Wareham Lodge, Gardener's Cottage and the adjacent gate, the eastern entrance and main entrance (all Listed Buildings Grade II), the buried generator to the south of the estate office, the modern banks of the car park, all fence and gate posts relating to modern field boundaries, and the stone and brick built walling of Lulworth Park, which overlies part of the park pale earthwork; however, the ground beneath all 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: 29092

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Tracy, C, Historic Landscape of the Weld Estate, (1987), 63-65
Tracy, C, Historic Landscape of the Weld Estate, (1987), 59-61

End of official listing