Medieval settlement remains at Flecknoe
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020934
Date first listed: 27-Jun-2000
Date of most recent amendment: 16-Jul-2003
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Rugby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SP 50923 63507, SP 51328 63626, SP 51397 63364, SP 51587 63305, SP 51709 63379
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 moat 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 remains of the medieval settlement at Flecknoe survive well, in several places without any major recent disturbance, with well preserved earthwork and buried remains of a variety of settlement features such as the toft and croft sites. Evidence from a series of small scale excavations has demonstrated that occupation levels survive from the Roman, Saxon and medieval periods, whilst documentary sources, dating from the Domesday Survey to the post-medieval period provide information about the size and manorial history of the settlement. The documents, combined with the physical remains, provide an outline of the development of the settlement which will form the basis of any detailed research into the site.
The settlement will illuminate the development of the village from pre- Conquest times until its re-population in the late 17th or 18th century, following the late medieval desertion of the village and provide an opportunity to consider a large medieval settlement within its wider context of local agriculture and economies. The remains of a range of buildings of different status will provide information about the relative wealth and activities of members of the community as well as changing methods and forms of housing and building techniques. Ridge and furrow cultivation remains and environmental evidence will illustrate the development of the technologies of agriculture and changing patterns of subsistence. The crofts will include evidence about the use of the private areas of land by individual tenants in comparison to the activities undertaken on common land and public space such as the great fields and greens of the settlement.
In addition, the low lying waterlogged area to the north west is expected to preserve organic deposits which will include environmental samples, such as pollen grains, seeds and beetle remains. These will illuminate the natural environment and climate locally in the periods between the height and expansion and the reduction of the population. This will allow consideration of the causes of changes in population in the Midlands during the 12th to 15th centuries.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Flecknoe, within five separate areas of protection. The
visible remains include the tofts and crofts (house sites and
enclosures) and associated hollow ways, field boundaries and enclosures
as well as a sample of the surviving medieval ridge and furrow
cultivation remains. Also included are the remains of the post-medieval
cockpits and quarry at Bush Hill.
The earthwork remains of the house sites indicate that the medieval settlement was irregular in plan and surrounded by a network of roads and tracks. It is believed that they were established over a long time span and formed the core of the medieval settlement. A later and probably short lived expansion of the settlement was laid out in regular plots over former arable lands to the north as the population grew and later abandoned as the population declined. There is also evidence of a regular row of buildings along the crest of the high ground located to the south east of Bush Hill. Orientated in a west to east direction, this row was south facing and sheltered by Bush Hill, and its dwellings probably occupied the most favoured location for building, remaining partially occupied today by post enclosure farmhouses.
A settlement at Flecknoe is first recorded in the Domesday Survey when it formed part of Turchills estate in the parish of Wolfhamcote and already amounted to at least 26 households, with an estimated population of 110. By 1267 the Flecknoe estate contained 20 virgates of land and had 23 messuages or principle house sites, rendering rents worth 20 pounds in 1270. A chapel existed at Flecknoe by 1360, and Dugdale records a decayed chapel in the 17th century. The settlement appears to have been held between two manors during the medieval period; between 1459 to 1608 one manor was held by the Bishops of Worcester, and the other was held by the Earls of Norfolk between 1372 and 1574. In common with many settlements in the region the village will have reached its greatest extent during the 12th to 13th centuries; the regular planned settlement to the north west of the village may represent this later expansion. Comparison with regional examples also suggests that the population of the village was falling during the 15th century, and it is believed that partial desertion soon followed. The present village results from a growth of the settlement on a different alignment in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Evidence from small scale excavations in 1994 and 1996 in advance of development found pottery from the 9th to 11th centuries and the 12th to 15th centuries associated with a series of ditches and enclosures, demonstrating that successive occupation levels survive from the Saxon and medieval periods.
The first area of protection includes two linear ditches oriented north to south, in the northern part of the enclosure running uphill from Bush Hill Lane towards the crest of the slope. These ditches are believed to have acted as boundaries, dividing the area into at least three crofts. These enclosures will preserve the buried remains of several phases of medieval domestic dwellings and their ancillary buildings as well as their associated gardens, allotments or orchards. At the top of the slope, on the broad flat crest are the remains of at least three earthen platforms associated with large sub-rectangular depressions believed to represent the remains of several other buildings which will have included dwellings, perhaps with cellars, and their associated ancillary and agricultural buildings. There are also several irregular ditches thought to represent the remains of boundary ditches and hollow ways acting as routes between the buildings. Near the south western angle of the enclosure is an irregular polygonal enclosure, 8m to 12m across, defined by external banks and ditches, approximately 1m deep and 2m to 3m wide. The enclosure has the appearance of a moated site and may have been associated with a dwelling or have acted as a stock enclosure such as an animal pound or pinfold. This enclosure is bounded on the west by a deep ditch up to 2m deep and a field track which was formerly a road. In the south east part of this area near Hill View Farm are the remains of two further rectangular building platforms, measuring approximately 15m to 20m east to west by 8m to 10m north to south. These are believed to have formed part of a row of buildings aligned along the edge of the crest of the slope which runs from west to east. Further cottages forming a row along the crest of the slope to the west are depicted on the 1884 Ordnance Survey map. These buildings have since been removed and the land levelled for agriculture. The truncated remains of three wells survive, although they are not included in the scheduling.
The second area of protection includes a series of irregular medieval settlement remains within the grounds of Hillcrest House. Here, traces survive of the east to west aligned hollow way running close to the hedge line and parallel to the crest of the slope. A building platform measuring 8m by 11m and aligned approximately east to west, parallel with the crest of the slope, survives lying partly beneath the modern tennis court. A further building platform measuring approximately 15m by 15m and roughly `L' shaped lies to the north east of the tennis court adjacent to the hedge line and hollow way. These two platforms represent a continuation of the row of buildings, orientated approximately east to west, which lined the crest of the slope in an extended row facing south over the scarp which led sharply down to the open field system lying to the south of the settlement. The remains of two shallow ditches oriented approximately north to south from the crest of the hill towards the road are believed to represent the boundaries of crofts.
Within the third area of protection a deep hollow way crosses the area from north to south forming part of an extant public footpath, and the remains of a further hollow way aligned east to west is located to the east near Flecknoe Farm. Traces of this second hollow way survive further along its course to the west in the gardens of the modern dwellings known as The Orchard and Firs Farm although these are not included in the scheduling. A pond survives in the north eastern angle of the area near the road, and at least three rectangular building platforms, measuring between 15m to 20m long and 8m to 10m wide survive towards the centre.
The fourth area of protection includes a number of regular tofts and crofts, defined by banks and ditches, overlying former ridge and furrow cultivation remains. The regularity of the remains suggest that this part of the settlement layout was planned. This area has an unfavourable north facing aspect and is badly drained suggesting that this part of the settlement was to have been occupied only when population pressure was at its height and abandoned to pasture when the population began to decline. The broad, curving ridge and furrow is orientated north to south. A large hollow way orientated east to west runs across the area two thirds of the way downslope towards the northern road. The remains of at least seven house platforms, measuring up to 15m by 20m and 1m high, are arranged in rows orientated east to west. Many of the platforms have central hollows representing collapsed building remains and cellars of former dwellings. The crofts appear to have been delineated by ditches, which may have served both as communication routes and drainage ditches, orientated north to south and measuring 1m to 2m wide and up to 0.75m deep. These define plots varying from 15m to 30m wide. Some of the plots appear to have been divided along their length when population pressure required subdivision of existing plots. To the west is a small moated enclosure. The island measures 10m by 10m and the moat varies between 3m and 6m wide and up to 1m deep, being widest on the south side. The moat is further defined by traces of a shallow outer bank 1m to 2m wide and 0.5m high. To the east of the moated site is a narrow green running north to south and measuring 20m wide defined by a ditch 2m to 4m wide and a bank 1m high on each side. The green lies up to 1m below the surrounding ground level, and at its north end the green is blocked by a building platform measuring 15m north to south by 20m east to west. The remains of a communal corn drying kiln built by the farmers between the two world wars occupies the north eastern corner of the field and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.
On the north eastern slopes of Bush Hill within the fifth area of protection are the remains of the post-medieval cockpits, a stone quarry, with its leat and associated hollow ways and a sample of ridge and furrow cultivation remains. The earthwork remains of three cockpits lie along the slope of the hill, downslope from the hollow way which measures 4m to 5m wide and is orientated east to west, towards the quarry. The cockpits are terraced into the hill side and are sub-circular with raised circular islands or central platforms measuring 3m to 4m in diameter, sloping on all sides to a surrounding ditch and defined by a circular outer bank which is massively constructed on the northern, downslope side. The banks measure up to 1.5m high and the cockpits have overall diameters of 12m to 15m. The easternmost cockpit has a semi-circular platform measuring up to 8m wide, terraced out of the hill slope on its eastern side. To the west of the cockpits are the remains of a stone quarry carved from the crown of Bush Hill. A series of smaller hollow ways run towards the quarry from the foot of the hill, and the ground is disturbed by other smaller quarry pits believed to represent surface digging to the north east of the main quarry. A spring issues at the base of the hollow way and formerly ran down the slope of the hill by the most direct route. The spring was later channelled into a leat formed by earthen banks measuring 1m to 2m wide by up to 1m high which carry the stream around the side of the hill to the west and then across the slope to a series of three ponds which lie to the west of the hill. These ponds are believed to represent the remains of medieval fishponds, but they have been recently re-dug and are not included in the scheduling. Faint remains of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation underlie the later complex of hollow ways associated with the quarry and cockpits. They are orientated north to south.
All modern paths and surfaces and post and wire fences, Hill View Farm, Hill View House, Hillcrest House, (Listed Grade II), Whitewalls and the corn drying kiln 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: 30051
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Salzman, LF (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Volume VI, (1951), 269-71
Various SMR Officers, Unpublished notes in SMR, 1951, SMR Print out& files 3042
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