Medieval settlement immediately east of All Saints Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017387

Date first listed: 29-Mar-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement immediately east of All Saints Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Ashdon

National Grid Reference: TL 58216 41486


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. The monument lies in the Anglian sub-Province of the south western Province, a rolling low plateau, drift-covered and dissected, which is characterised by significantly lower densities of hamlets, villages and market towns than the Midlands. It is notable for the consistent presence of medium to very high densities of dispersed settlements - isolated halls, large farmsteads and churches - in landscapes possessing large numbers of moated sites and loosely structured hamlets bearing `green' names. All were formerly associated with long chains of roadside commons linking together the larger blocks of common land. This is an ancient, intricate landscape. The North West Essex local region is on chalky glacial clays. Domesday Book shows that in 1086 the area was well settled, even though still densely wooded. High numbers of medieval moated sites and large numbers of settlements with the place name `green' are elements in a settlement pattern dominated by medium and high densities of dispersed settlements, as it was in the Middle Ages.

The medieval settlement remains immediately east of All Saints Church represent part of a more extensive settlement which developed around the church in the medieval period. Although much of this settlement has been obscured by the subsequent development of the village, this surviving area represents a sizeable proportion of the original settlement in which evidence for the nature of the settlement is very well preserved.

The terraced platforms will retain evidence for structures, accompanied by a range of other buried features such a boundaries, refuse pits and drainage channels related to the life of the settlement. Artefacts found in association with these features will provide insights into the date and duration of occupation, and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Environmental evidence may also be recovered, illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the settlement was set and providing information about its agricultural regime.

The discovery of Anglo-Saxon burials in the western part of the pasture in the 1830s provides a significant indication of the early origin of the settlement, which may prove to be related to the foundation of the 11th century minster following the political turbulence at the beginning of King Cnut's reign.


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


The monument includes the surviving visible and buried remains of a medieval settlement located immediately to the east of All Saints Church. The remains include a series of low sub-rectangular terraces and platforms extending some 100m across the pasture to the east of the churchyard and descending the gentle slope of a broad valley towards a steep-sided gulley at the base. These platforms, the largest of which measures approximately 40m by 12m, are thought to mark the locations of timber houses and other structures related to the medieval settlement at Church End. The three main terraces are divided by two trackways worn into the slope and orientated north to south. A narrow and largely infilled drainage channel runs eastwards towards the gulley from the lowest platform, flanked to the south by a low bank of upcast which is believed to have resulted from successive cleaning of the channel.

The medieval date of the remains is confirmed by a large quantity of pottery fragments retrieved during the removal of topsoil from part of the site in the 1970s. Similar pottery was found during the construction of the Guildhall Cottages in 1962, indicating that the settlement originally extended further around the southern side of the church. The Guildhall itself, which lies immediately to the south of the church and is now a private house, was mentioned in a will dated 1501 and probably dates from the late 15th century. In the 1830s a number of graves were found in the field to the east of the church, the burials were accompanied by weapons and pottery vessels indicating an Anglo-Saxon date. The church itself is essentially a 14th and 15th century structure, although an earlier version is mentioned in a grant of 1096 and it may have originated in the late Anglo-Saxon period. It has been suggested that the early church was built as a minster in the reign of King Cnut following the battle of Assandun in 1016, the site of which has been tentatively identified with Ashdon.

The stables located toward the northern boundary of the pasture and all fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these items 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: 29395

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hart, C, The Early Charters of Essex, (1958), 16
Rodwell, WJ, 'CBA Research Report No.19' in Historic Churches a wasting asset, , Vol. 19, (1977), 95
Antiquity Model and Notes, Ordnance Survey, TL 54 SE 31, (1976)
Architectural notes, 4773 Guildhall, (1985)
Architectural notes, 4774/5 Ashdon Hall, (1985)
Field notes, Hedges, JD & Petchey, MR, 4776: Ashdon Hall-Church End medieval complex, (1976)
RCHME, Inventory of Historic Monuments, Essex, (1924)

End of official listing