Medieval settlement and church of Asterleigh


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


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement and church of Asterleigh
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Nov-2019 at 01:32:55.


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

West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
Kiddington with Asterleigh
National Grid Reference:
SP 40014 22227

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. The Upper Avon and Thames local region has mixed characteristics, with elements of both `village' and `woodland' landscapes. It is distinguished by substantial densities of villages and hamlets associated with moderate numbers of scattered farmsteads, giving a rather dense overall pattern, but the region still carried woodland in 1086, and the Braden and Chippenham Forests reflect this.

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 distinguished 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 also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages 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 site of Asterleigh is a good example of the local settlement pattern, identified as such through a national evaluation programme. It survives well as a series of earthworks and buried features and is of particular interest as it was abandoned at a relatively early date, in part, as a result of the Black Death. In addition the medieval quarrying associated with part of the site and the early post-medieval kilns add to the continuity of use on the site and demonstrate how its function in the landscape changed over time. The evidence provided by pottery revealed by quarrying, aerial photography and documentary sources indicate that the site will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the habitation of the settlement, the reasons for its abandonment and its subsequent changes of use. Taken with evidence from other medieval settlement sites in the region, a number of which are also scheduled monuments, the village remains at Asterleigh will provide an insight into the economic and agricultural forces which led to villages such as these being abandoned in favour of other settlement sites within the region as a whole.


The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Asterleigh and the associated site of St Peter's Church, two post-medieval kilns and medieval quarry workings. The monument lies on the crest of a slight east-west ridge overlooking a shallow valley known as Pump Copse. The monument is known from aerial photographs, archaeological surveys and field investigation. It is aligned roughly east-west along the ridge line following a main street which can still be seen as an earthwork hollow way. This hollow way forms part of an old route from Kiddington to Over Kiddington, parts of which are still in use as farm tracks in the modern landscape. The village remains include at least ten house platforms which vary in size from about 5 sq m to over 15m across, adjacent to the Church of St Peter to the north of the hollow way. The church is now only visible as a rectangular earthwork up to 0.6m high and measuring 20m from north to south and approximately 30m from east to west. This represents the boundary of the churchyard which is similar in size to many others in West Oxfordshire during the medieval period. To the east, roughly 40m from the churchyard boundary, is a depression 15m wide by 40m long. This may represent a pond at the heart of the village which has become infilled over time. To the south are two circular features roughly 9m in diameter which are believed to be the sites of early post-medieval kilns. South of these the edge of the village has been obscured by later quarrying. The village is not mentioned separately in the Domesday book but is included under the entry for Over Kiddington. Pottery from the site and documentary records show that the village was certainly thriving in the late 12th century and continued to be occupied until the 1460s when it was considered too poor to survive due to depopulation as a result of several epidemics. These had begun in the 1340s with the Black Death. During the following 120 years further outbreaks of plague and other related problems meant that the settlement never really recovered and in 1466 the population was moved to Over Kiddington and were subsequently counted in the census there. However, the church continued in use until it was finally abandoned in the late 16th century. The font from the church is now believed to be in a garden in Radford. The quarrying south of the village occurred from the 1460s onwards and may be related to the kilns which occupied part of the site. A more obvious quarry just south of the village is modern and is excluded from the scheduling. All modern post and wire fence boundaries crossing the site, including gate posts and the track surface, 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

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Legacy System:


During site visits regarding font, JEFFERY, PAUL P, Discussion with owners in Radford and Asterleigh, (1998)
PRN 853, Sites and Monuments Record Officer, Asterleigh Deserted Medieval Village, (1986)
PRN 853, Sites and Monuments Record Officer, Asterleigh Deserted Medieval Village, (1986)
PRN 853, Sites and Monuments Record Officer, Asterleigh Deserted Medieval Village, (1986)


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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