Ancient Monuments

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Wretchwick deserted medieval settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Ambrosden, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8871 / 51°53'13"N

Longitude: -1.1358 / 1°8'8"W

OS Eastings: 459577.1765

OS Northings: 221307.0552

OS Grid: SP595213

Mapcode National: GBR 8XK.MP6

Mapcode Global: VHCX4.8TFP

Entry Name: Wretchwick deserted medieval settlement

Scheduled Date: 5 September 1958

Last Amended: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015549

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28148

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Ambrosden

Built-Up Area: Bicester

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Ambrosden

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument, which falls into two areas immediately north east and south west
of Middle Wretchwick Farm, south east of Bicester, includes the remains of
Wretchwick medieval village and its associated earthwork boundaries.
Although divided by the present farm complex, the remains clearly represent
a medieval settlement with hollow trackways dividing building platforms which
vary in size from 2m by 3m to 30m by 40m. There are also a series of water
management channels which vary from 3m to 8m wide and feed a series of small
ponds associated with the farm.
The remains north east of the farm are less regular in their layout than those
to the south west and it is believed that this is the earlier core of the
village, with a later more planned extension being added when dairying
increased the need for more labour in the late 1400s.
Wrethwick is mentioned as an estate in 1086 in the Domesday book and it is
known to have had the status of a Manor by 1194. By 1274 it was owned by
Bicester Priory and in 1279 the population consisted of 24 villeins and their
dependants. In 1488 it was suffering from a reduced population due to the
Black Death and it was depopulated by the Prior of Bicester. By 1536 the manor
had been divided up into five leasehold farms and by 1791 an estate map shows
only one farm present on the site. By 1881 the present land boundaries had
been formed by enclosure and the next major alteration was the development to
the north west in the last decade.
Excluded from the scheduling are all boundary fences, the surface of the track
to Middle Wretchwick Farm and all water management devices within the drains,
although the ground beneath all of these features and the water channels
themselves are included in the scheduled area.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.
The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision.
Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession
of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts
which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is in general
dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads,
mostly of post-medieval date, set in the spaces between them. Depopulated
village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.

This monument survives well despite the adjacent fields having been built over
by modern development. The earthworks are known by analogy from the part
excavation of adjacent platforms to contain archaeological and environmental
remains relating to the construction, economy and fate of the settlement and
its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Chambers, R A, 'Oxoniensia' in The Deserted Medieval Settlement at Wrethwick, , Vol. LVI, (1992), 173-6

Source: Historic England

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