Medieval settlement at Much Cowarne, immediately south east of Mill House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021001

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement at Much Cowarne, immediately south east of Mill House
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This copy shows the entry on 11-Dec-2018 at 16:12:05.


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

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Much Cowarne

National Grid Reference: SO 62190 46867


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 Wye-Teme sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area dominated by small hamlets and dispersed farmsteads set in intricate, anciently enclosed landscapes which still carry significant amounts of woodland. Domesday Book reveals that the sub-Province was already densely settled by the time of the Norman Conquest. In the Middle Ages, communally organised townfields supported the larger hamlets and villages in the valleys of the middle Wye and Lugg and their tributaries, but elsewhere there were smaller, core arable lands adjacent to small hamlets and farmstead scatters. To the south, the Forest of Dean, wooded and with low settlement densities, forms a distinct entity. North of the Wye-Lugg lowland and the county town of Hereford lies a large and extraordinarily varied local region, with sharp ridges and small plateaux rising above the valleys of the main rivers and the headwaters of their tributaries. Well marked boundaries are conspicuously absent. Small market towns and villages are generally thin on the ground, but hamlets and scattered dwellings, farmsteads and cottages are present in large numbers in countryside landscapes dominated by hedged enclosures. Older field patterns mix with intakes from common pastures made in the two last centuries, and some higher lands still carry open grazing.

The medieval settlement at Much Cowarne, immediately south east of Mill House, survives well and is a good example of its type. Documentary evidence suggests that it was an unusually populous manor, held by King Harold in 1066. As a possible late Saxon market centre and nascent `town' the settlement will provide information on urbanisation, settlement patterns and development. The earthworks are quite extensive and show three different areas of settlement, relating to a central area. These will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the settlement and the landscape in which it was constructed. The ridge and furrow, showing evidence of medieval agriculture relating to the settlement, will provide information on the growth and development of the settlement over a long period of time.


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


The monument includes a medieval settlement situated in the valley of the River Lodden with high ground to the north, south and west. About 300m to the north west of the settlement lie the present village of Much Cowarne and its church, which is of medieval date. Immediately south of the settlement lies the river and Cowarne mill.

The medieval settlement includes earthwork and buried remains of building platforms, trackways and medieval agricultural activity. There are three trackways or hollow ways visible, which were the village streets. These three tracks meet at the centre of the village at a triangular flat area, which has been interpreted as a village green or market place. The triangular area is about 24m from base to apex, with the base being 16m wide. The three hollow ways lead off to the north east, south west and north west. The apex of the triangular area points towards the north east and forms the entrance to the track which leads off in that direction. This hollow way is about 3m wide and 0.5m deep. It travels upslope and there are six well-defined building platforms cut into the slope on its western side. Each platform was originally about 36m long and 11m wide, but they now vary between 18m and 24m in length due to modern building development on that side of the field. These platforms would have supported a building on the end of the platform fronting the street, with a garden behind. On the east side of the hollow way the land levels off to the open field, represented by the vestigial remains of terracing and ridge and furrow cultivation which borders the settlement on that side. At the north east end of the settlement, the hollow way and platforms end at a ditch 0.5m wide and 0.5m deep, which marks the limit of the settlement on this side. The hollow way from the centre of the village to the mill travels south and then doglegs to the south west. This hollow way is about 0.7m deep and 2m wide. There are eight platforms on the western side of the hollow way, and two on the eastern side at the southern end. These platforms are about 9m wide and at least 25m long, although a footpath has reduced the platforms on the western side. The land to the east of the hollow way is lower than that to the west, and there are slight remains of ridge and furrow on that side. The remaining hollow way, which radiates out from the centre of the village, runs the short distance to the north west where it meets the edge of the field and the modern trackways. This hollow way is about 3m wide and 0.7m deep. It has three platforms on its eastern side and two on its western. Around the village green there are three smaller platforms generally about 9m by 4m.

The settlement has been identified as `Cuare' which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1086 it had a priest, a reeve, 26 villagers, 8 smallholders, 4 slaves and a blacksmith. This represents an unusually populous manor, and was held by King Harold in 1066. It is thought that the settlement was a late Saxon market centre and nascent `town'. In the 12th century, Grimbald Pauncefot, a crusader, was lord of the manor and patron of the settlement. The settlement held a charter with the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. The mill is brick built and appears to be of 19th century date, but since one of the village streets leads to it, there is the probability that a medieval precursor stood on the site. No archaeological evidence of the mill is known, however, and the mill is not therefore included in the scheduling. To the north of the settlement, modern development has removed any of its remains and this area is not included in the scheduling.

All fences, gates and gateposts 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: 28880

Legacy System: RSM


Report by Keith Ray CAO, (2000)
Report by Keith Ray CAO, (2000)

End of official listing