Early medieval settlement, palace, church and Bronze Age ring ditches 340m east of Cowage Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Early medieval settlement, palace, church and Bronze Age ring ditches 340m east of Cowage Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
St. Paul Malmesbury Without
National Grid Reference:
ST 90724 86014, ST 90745 86190

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 Cotswold Scarp and Vales sub-Province of the Central Province, a scarp and vale landscape extending south eastwards from the clays and alluvium of the Severn Plain, over the limestones of the Cotswolds to the Oxford Clay Vale. Villages and hamlets concentrate thickly in the Severn Valley and the Vale of Pewsey, but are only moderately dense elsewhere. They are most thinly scattered on the higher ridge of the north east Cotswolds, an area where in 1851 there were low populations and frequent deserted villages. Overall, there are very low concentrations of dispersed farmsteads, the only exceptions being the Vale of Pewsey and the Upper Avon and Thames watershed.

The Early Medieval settlement near Cowage Farm is a good example of this rare type of monument preserved beneath the ploughline. Partial excavation has shown it will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The Bronze Age burial monuments demonstrate continuity of use over some 3000 years.


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes the remains of an early medieval or Saxon settlement, palace, church and Bronze Age ring ditches located to the east and south east of Cowage Farm on the south bank of the River Avon, 3km south west of Malmesbury. On the north side of the road the site is visible largely as cropmarks which indicate the outline of a number of rectangular buildings, each about 14m long and 7m wide, occupying a small limestone plateau overlooking the flood plain of the river. Amongst these is a substantial hall aligned north-south with annexes at either end. Associated with this are a number of fenced enclosures. To the east of the main group of buildings is a rectangular ditched enclosure containing a large structure aligned east-west with an apse on the east end interpreted as a church. To the east of this are a further four rectangular structures scattered over a wide area. On the south side of the road the fenced enclosures continue and there are another two rectangular buildings as well as two earlier ring ditches or levelled Bronze Age burial mounds, one appearing to be segmented. Towards the flood plain of the river, where the field is under pasture there is a further feature visible as an earthwork, interpreted as a substantial platform 25m long and 15m wide overlooking the river. The platform has a hollow in the middle interpreted as evidence of robbing. Partial excavation has revealed that the site represents a settlement of Middle Saxon date including a substantial hall and church standing in its own enclosure. All fence posts 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:
Legacy System:


Hinchcliffe, J, Cowage Farm Foxley Wiltshire : An interim report, 1983,
Hinchcliffe, J, Cowage Farm Foxley Wiltshire : An interim report, 1983,


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

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