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Roman burials, medieval settlement remains and a later ditched enclosure east of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Swell, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.93 / 51°55'47"N

Longitude: -1.7464 / 1°44'47"W

OS Eastings: 417531.989856

OS Northings: 225746.702239

OS Grid: SP175257

Mapcode National: GBR 4PV.WVV

Mapcode Global: VHB1P.PR3C

Entry Name: Roman burials, medieval settlement remains and a later ditched enclosure east of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1949

Last Amended: 22 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013369

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22903

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Swell

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: The Swells

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes Roman burials and later medieval and post-medieval
remains, in the form of a ditched enclosure, hollow way, field system,
associated earthworks and the Lady's Well. All are situated immediately north
of the present village of Lower Swell and are set on a gentle east facing
slope overlooking the valley of the River Dikler.
The earliest activity to be identified at the site dates from the
Romano-British period. Pottery dating from the 4th century AD along with
animal bones and iron work was discovered within the churchyard near the top
of the slope, during the 19th century. Similar material has been recovered
from the surrounding area and is known to extend to the area around the Lady's
Well, which is situated near to the eastern foot of the slope.
Construction of a new aisle for the church in about 1850 also revealed Roman
remains in the form of a human cremation associated with a coin of Constantine
(issued between AD 312-337), together with other human graves associated with
Romano-British pottery. These remains suggest the presence of a Romano-British
occupation site and an associated cemetery. There is also further evidence of
Roman activity in the surrounding area, including a Roman villa situated 900m
to the north east; and two Roman roads, the Ryknild Street situated 2km to the
west, and The Fosse Way situated 1.25km to the east.
The visible earthworks at the site are all thought to date from the medieval
and post-medieval periods and are situated to the north and east of St Mary's
Church. These earthworks represent a hollow way, house platform, ridge and
furrow and two possibly later enclosures, one of which is moated.
A central feature of the site is the hollow way which has the appearance of a
linear depression orientated broadly east-west. This extends for c.175m from
the foot of the slope near to the Lady's Well in the east and towards the
churchyard at the crest of the slope 200m to the west. The hollow way varies
between 4m-5m in width, is up to c.1m deep and is flanked by banks 0.8m-1m
wide and c.0.45m high. There is an extension of the hollow way to the north
and north east of the churchyard, which joins the lane leading north from the
present village. The hollow way marks the course of the original main road
which linked the settlements at Stow and Gloucester. Historical sources record
that the road was turnpiked in 1755, before being diverted following the
creation of the park at Abbotswood around 1867. The original road is known to
have crossed the River Dikler by means of a bridge constructed by 1741.
To the north of the hollow way there is an area of well preserved ridge and
furrow. This represents the remains of cultivation dating from the medieval
period and includes a series of earthworks produced by ploughing. The ridge
and furrow is orientated north east by south west, with ridges c.0.5m high and
1m wide and furrows c.0.4m deep and 2m-3m wide. Although once more extensive,
it now extends over an area of c.4ha.
At the western end of the east-west aligned hollow way, on the eastern side of
the churchyard, is a platform defined by external banks c.0.75m high enclosing
an area with dimensions of 20m east-west and 30m north-south. Within the
enclosed area is a slight earthwork, `L' shaped in plan and which is likely to
represent the foundation or lower wall levels of a substantial building. This
may be the location of the mansion know from historical sources to have been
constructed at `The Bowl' prior to 1515 and demolished in 1671. The mansion
was initially replaced by a structure ajoining nearby farm buildings, before
finally being superseded by the house at Abbotswood in 1867.
At the eastern end of the main hollow way is a natural spring associated with
an overlying stone structure, together known as the `Lady's Well'. The spring
supplies water to the ditched enclosure 25m to the west by means of a channel
10m long and 1.5m wide. The enclosure occupies a low lying position
overlooking the River Dikler to the east and north east and is sometimes known
as the Lady's Well moated site. The enclosure is defined by an outer
water-filled ditch 2m-3m wide and c.1m deep, enclosing a level interior,
sub-rectangular in plan, with dimensions of 77m north-south, 43m east-west at
the northern end and 30m east-west at the south.
The enclosure is situated close to an ornamental lake and is likely to have
formed part of the garden features associated with the landscaping of the
grounds of Abbotswood, 700m to the north east.
Immediately south west of the ditched enclosure, on the south eastern side of
the hollow way is a further enclosure marked by a ditch and inner bank. The
ditch survives as an earthwork 1m wide and c.0.5m deep.
The bank, which is 3m wide and c.0.45m high encloses an area of c.0.25ha. This
area may have been the original extent of the property associated with the
adjacent Lodge.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts relating to the modern field
boundaries, along with the metalled road surface within the eastern area,
although the underlying ground is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The archaeological remains east of St Mary's Church survive well as an unusual
combination of features covering the period from at least the 4th century AD
to the 19th century. Included within the monument are good examples of
earthworks known as ridge and furrow, as well as settlement remains and an
associated hollow way. The extent to which these features survive is unusual
for the Cotswolds, much of which has been subjected to cultivation over many
years. In this case, survival is due to the emparkment of the grounds of
Abbotswood which fossilised the earlier components into a 19th century
parkland landscape. Components of that landscape are also contained within the
monument, in the form of the ditched enclosure and associated well.
Partial excavation of the monument has produced archaeological remains and
demonstrated the time depth represented. All the recorded features have been
incorporated into a wider thematic survey of the archaeology of the Cotswold
region undertaken by the RCHME.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire165
The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire166
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Iron Age and Roman Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, (1976), 115
A History of Gloucestershire,
A History of Gloucestershire,
Discovery of RB cremations and graves,
Discovery of RB material around well,
Discovery of RB material during 19thC,
Extent of enclosure,
Extent of field system,
Mention mansion at 'The Bowl',
Mention name of site,
Mention possible site of manor house,
Mention Roman deposits,
Mention size of features,

Source: Historic England

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