Dispersed medieval settlement remains and a Roman building immediately south west of St Cosmus and St Damian's Church

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018785

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1999

Map

Ordnance survey map of Dispersed medieval settlement remains and a Roman building immediately south west of St Cosmus and St Damian's Church
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Canterbury (District Authority)

Parish: St. Cosmus and St. Damian in the Blean

National Grid Reference: TR 12874 60619

Summary

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 Eastern Weald sub-Province of the South-eastern Province, bounded by the North and South Downs and comprising an oval arrangement of inward facing escarpments of chalk and sandstone, separated by clay vales, all ringing a higher sandstone ridge. Apart from concentrations of nucleated settlements in the Vale of Holmsdale and around Canterbury, the sub- Province is dominated by high and very high densities of dispersed settlements, giving a countryside with farmsteads and associated enclosed fields, of medieval foundation, intermixed with cottages, medieval moated sites and hamlets bearing the names `green' or `dene'. The Canterbury-Thanet local region contains the regional centre of Canterbury, on which converges routes from Dover and former ports such as Richborough and Reculver. It is a long cleared and anciently settled countryside, lacking scattered farmsteads and with villages clustered as densely as in the Midlands. It has probably been a zone of arable cultivation for several millennia.

Medieval dispersed settlements, comprising hamlets of up to five dwellings or isolated farmsteads, were scattered throughout the parish or township. Often occurring in the more densely wooded, less intensively farmed areas, the form and status of dispersed settlements varied enormously. When they survive as earthworks, their most easily distinguishable features include roads and tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, and the enclosed fields or irregular field systems with which the dwellings were associated. These rural settlements can also be represented by below ground deposits. Higher status dwellings, such as moated residences or manorial complexes, may have well-defined boundaries and planned gardens. In the western and south eastern provinces of England, dispersed settlements were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman conquest.

The medieval settlement remains at St Cosmus and St Damian in the Blean represent the predominant, dispersed form of medieval rural settlement within the Eastern Weald sub-province. The settlement remains survive well, in association with an adjacent, contemporary church and an earlier Roman building, retaining visible earthworks. Field survey indicates that the monument will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence for the development and abandonment of the medieval settlement and the earlier Roman building.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of a dispersed medieval settlement and an earlier Roman building situated on the southern slope of a clay hill around 7km north west of Canterbury. The Roman remains are represented by below ground archaeology, and have been identified as a villa. The scatter of masonry visible in the plough soil suggests that it occupies the northern part of the monument. Analysis of associated pottery fragments indicates that the building was in use during the first to third centuries AD. The dispersed medieval settlement survives in the form of earthworks and associated buried remains. The earthworks survive to a height of up to around 0.5m and represent three adjoining north west-south east aligned rectangular enclosures identified as a manor house complex and two associated, contemporary dwellings. Part of a roughly north-south aligned track runs along the eastern side of the monument. Documentary evidence, including an entry in the Domesday Book, suggests that the settlement was in existence by the 11th century. Analysis of pottery fragments found within the settlement suggests that it had fallen into disuse by the early 15th century. Immediately beyond the monument to the north east is the associated parish church of St Cosmus and St Damian, Listed Grade II, the standing fabric of which dates mainly to the 13th century. The church and its churchyard, both of which remain in use, are not included in the scheduling. Three telegraph poles situated on the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 31400

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
St Clair-Terry, S, Blean During the Middle Ages, (1986)
Tatton-Brown, T, 'Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report' in Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report: Kent, , Vol. 25, (1977), 9-10

End of official listing