Medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017806

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Dudley (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SO 91694 90324


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

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.

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 up 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 Black Country local region comprises that portion of the Upper Tame basin which overlies the former South Staffordshire coalfield. Its hamlets and villages are largely the result of the intensification of settlement during the last two centuries, resulting from coalfield exploitation: the earlier chains of dispersed farmsteads coalesced into hamlets, and hamlets expanded into villages. The remains of the medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm and the later deer park pale are important both in terms of the rarity of survival of pre- industrial settlement sites in the region and because of the variety of features which survive in the surrounding landscape. The core of the settlement has not been disturbed by later developments, consequently archaeological deposits will survive well. There are also areas of waterlogged deposits in the southern part of the monument where environmental deposits will survive providing information on the economic and environmental conditions during the occupation of the settlement. Stone foundations of earlier buildings can be seen in the northern part of the site near the farm indicating the survival of occupation remains. In addition, the survival of ridge and furrow cultivation remains and the hollow ways which connected them to the village indicate the agricultural practices followed by the settlement. The survival of the deer park pale encroaching upon some of the settlement's arable land, will provide information on the relationship between the settlement and the park and may indicate the reasons for the shrinkage of the settlement. Surviving documentation will allow consideration of the relationship between the settlement and other features of a similar date in the area, and will also allow an understanding of the wider aspect of the medieval landscape in the area.


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


The monument includes the surviving buried and earthwork remains of a medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm, as well as surviving sections of a deer park pale. The settlement forms a sub-rectangular area which lies largely on a south-facing slope to the south of Cooper's Bank Farm, between Himley Road to the north east and Cooper's Bank Road to the north west, and bounded to the south by the line of a former mineral railway. The remains take the form of distinct enclosures delineated by banks and ditches, believed to contain several tofts or areas where houses and other buildings were located. The enclosures are arranged along the head of the slope in the area of Cooper's Bank Farm and along a hollow way running downslope to the south of the farm. This hollow way meets a second one aligned east to west which traverses the whole of the settlement and is believed to have linked the medieval fields to the east with fields to the west. At the top of the slope immediately adjacent to the farm on its south side are the earthwork and stone footings of at least two rectangular buildings orientated north to south and measuring 4m to 6m wide by 10m to 12m long. Immediately adjacent to the farm on the east side lies another platform delineated by a bank which is also believed to represent a building platform. This platform lies to the north east of a hollow way running south east downslope to join the easternmost hollow way adjacent to the cultivation remains. To the south of the farm more enclosures are arranged along either side of a hollow way which is aligned north to south running downslope from the farm and can be traced over 170m. The best surviving enclosure lies to the west of the hollow way at its southern end and is rectangular, measuring 80m by 30m. A triangular enclosure lies to the west of this feature and a similar, less distinct, enclosure lies opposite it to the east of the hollow way. At the base of the slope, adjacent to the route of the mineral railway line, the north-south aligned hollow way converges with the remnants of two other hollow ways; the first, 60m long and 3m wide by 0.75m deep, is orientated north west to south east and lies parallel to the south west edge of the monument; the second, orientated north east to south west, is the easternmost hollow way and lies between the settlement area and its associated medieval field system. It is over 160m long, 6m wide and 1m to 2m deep. The continuation of the joint route of the hollow ways is obscured by a later pond and areas of mineral working waste, but is believed to have continued towards the site of the mill. The site of Hunts Mill, located 300m to the south west of the settlement, is now occupied by a later mill and is not included in the scheduling. To the east of the easternmost hollow way is a discrete area of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains. The ridge and furrow can be seen running in three directions, and varies in width between 3m to 5m. The eastern edge of the ridge and furrow cultivation remains is bounded by a later medieval deer park pale orientated north west to south east and traversing the whole of the slope. This takes the form of a bank, 2m to 4m wide and 1m to 3m high, with an internal ditch of similar proportions on the eastern side of the bank. It runs up the slope in a northerly direction for over 120m before turning through 110 degrees to run in a north easterly direction for another 80m. This earthwork forms the largest surviving remains of the park pale. The interior of the park lay to the east of the settlement and may have enclosed some of the arable fields of the settlement. Traces of the medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains in this area were visible in 1991, although they are now no longer evident and the area is not included in the scheduling. The park is well documented and was known as the `New Park' when it was created around 1250 by the Earls of Dudley. The buildings of Cooper's Bank Farm, including the farmhouse stable range, barn and cartshed (all Listed Grade II) and all the modern fences 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: 30015

Legacy System: RSM


Bolland, P, Unpublished notes, photographs and sketch survey, 1996, SMR enhanced record 4874
Jones, L R, Unpublished survey, 1992, commissioned survey for Dudley MBC

End of official listing