Medieval settlement at Wolfhampcote
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1019026
Date first listed: 19-Jan-1967
Date of most recent amendment: 27-Sep-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Daventry (District Authority)
District: Rugby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SP 52895 65465
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 past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Inner Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province,
an area characterised by large numbers of nucleated settlements, both
surviving and deserted, many of which are thought to have been established in
Anglo-Saxon times. Most of the sub-Province's thinly scattered dispersed
settlements were created in post-medieval times, but some of the local regions
are characterised by higher proportions of dispersed dwellings and hamlets,
which probably mark the patchy survival of older landscapes.
The Stour-Avon-Soar Clay Vales local region is dominated by village and hamlet
settlements. It was once characterised by large townfields under communal
cultivation, traces which survive as ridge and furrow earthworks. It contains
the sites of many depopulated villages and hamlets, perhaps up to one third of
the total number of such settlements which existed in the Middle Ages.
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included one or more manorial centres which may survive also as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of rural 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 at Wolfhampcote survives as a well documented complex which will provide information upon the size and form of the site, including the layout of buildings, crofts, fields and roads. This will provide evidence about both the growth and development of the settlement and the use of the private areas of land by individuals in comparison to the activities undertaken on common land and public space. Those areas which have been partly infilled, such as the moat, ponds and quarries will be expected to preserve buried deposits, including evidence for their construction, use and any alterations which occurred.
Excavations have confirmed that the buried remains of former buildings and artefacts survive well. The buried building remains will preserve evidence about the building techniques, dates of construction and any alterations over time, whilst artefacts and environmental deposits provide evidence for the lifestyle of their tenants, including the sources of materials used in every day items.
The churchyard at Wolfhampcote is believed to preserve the skeletal remains of the inhabitants of the medieval settlement and will include an extensive sample of the rural population. These will provide information about the dietary conditions, age and health of the rural population, and will allow statistical analysis of the changes in the population of medieval Wolfhampcote.
In addition, the survival of burial goods and artefacts such as coffin fittings will provide information about changing funerary practices in the settlement throughout the medieval and post-medieval period.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Wolfhampcote, located on the western banks of the River Leam on
the Warwickshire/Northamptonshire border. The remains also include the moated
manor house associated with the village, and an area of medieval ridge and
Wolfhampcote derives its name from the Saxon name Ufelm and means `Ufelmes manor'. By 1086 the village was held by Turchil of Arden and already had a priest and approximately 25 householders. Manorial records trace the history of the site into the 17th century, although the population of the village declined during the 14th and 15th century. A public enquiry of 1517 found that two specific acts of depopulation had occurred; in 1501 John Ferres enclosed 30 acres which were in complete ruin; and in 1510 Richard Quyney dispossessed six tenants when he enclosed a further 40 acres.
Excavations carried out at the site in 1955 demonstrated occupation from the Anglo-Saxon period, while the height of the population is thought to have occurred during the 12th and 13th centuries. The subsequent population decline coincided with climatic deterioration which is indicated by a period of road improvement and ditch digging in an attempt to improve the drainage at the waterlogged site.
The settlement remains include an area of house sites including building platforms and yards (or tofts) and the allotments or extended garden plots associated with the dwellings (or crofts). They are defined by raised platforms and minor hollow ways forming an irregular grid system laid out along the side of a road, orientated east to west. The main street, which led from the site of the manor to the east, towards the village fields to the west, measures approximately 8m to 15m wide and is heavily cambered with evidence of flanking ditches on either side. The raised platforms of the tofts are clearly visible and vary in size, measuring between 15m and 50m wide and approximately 20m long. The crofts are also defined by raised platforms separated by hollow ways, measuring up to 1m deep and 5m wide. These delineate regular enclosures approximately 30m long and as wide as the house platforms lying to the rear of the house sites. Additional rows of houses may have been located within some of the crofts which appear to have been internally subdivided.
Several hollow ways, orientated north to south, cross the arrangement of tofts and crofts and run towards the medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains. They are believed to be access routes to the fields. The western extent of the settlement was defined by the River Leam, whilst medieval ridge and furrow remains of village fields defined the site to the north, east and west of the settlement. A sample of the cultivation remains are included in the scheduling to preserve their relationship with the settlement.
In the eastern part of the monument, lying at the head of the main street, are the remains of a large octagonal moat which included the site of the medieval manor house and associated buildings. The moat is up to 2.5m deep and 10m wide. The remains of an external bank, measuring up to 6m wide and 2.5m high, are best defined on the external side of the south eastern and north eastern moat arms where the falling topography required the greatest engineering. The island measures approximately 65m by 55m, orientated north to south. The uneven surface of the island indicates that the buried remains of buildings will survive. To the west of the moated site are remains of a large irregular quarry and at least one large sub-rectangular fishpond which lay between the moat and the river. The fishpond is retained on its eastern side by a large earthen bank 10m to 12m wide and up to 1.5m high. The pond is 8m to 12m wide and up to 40m long. It is quite regular in shape and may have had an ornamental function, providing the impression of a second moat on the downslope side of the manor house. A leat returning to the river survives in the northern end of the pond.
St Peter's Church, a Grade II* Listed Building, is located south of the village remains. The present church dates largely from 14th and 15th centuries, although evidence of an earlier structure is believed to exist beneath it. The base of the tower is of earlier date, and the font is Anglo- Saxon. The list of vicars is continuous from 1248 suggesting use of the site for worship over a considerable time. The surrounding churchyard served as the burial place of the majority of the medieval population, including the lords of the manor. Within the churchyard are situated approximately 50 memorials between 17th and 19th century in date, eight late 17th century headstones and one 17th century chest tomb. They are all Listed Grade II.
Any settlement remains which may have survived to the south of the church have been obscured by the later railway embankment and cuttings. This area is not therefore included in the scheduling.
A number of features within the area of protection are excluded from the scheduling, these are the 17th century barn west of the church and all modern surfaces and fences; the ground beneath all of these features is, however, 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: 30063
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Beresford, M W, Deserted Villages of Warwickshire, (1954), 98-9
Birmingham Museum service, , 'annual report' in Excavations at Wolfhamcote, , Vol. 3, (1955)
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