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Medieval settlement immediately east of All Saints Church

A Scheduled Monument in Ashdon, Essex

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Latitude: 52.0492 / 52°2'57"N

Longitude: 0.3058 / 0°18'20"E

OS Eastings: 558213.161868

OS Northings: 241490.3349

OS Grid: TL582414

Mapcode National: GBR ND4.D4Z

Mapcode Global: VHHKZ.8R1F

Entry Name: Medieval settlement immediately east of All Saints Church

Scheduled Date: 29 March 1977

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017387

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29395

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Ashdon

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Ashdon

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes the surviving visible and buried remains of a medieval
settlement located immediately to the east of All Saints Church. The remains
include a series of low sub-rectangular terraces and platforms extending some
100m across the pasture to the east of the churchyard and descending the
gentle slope of a broad valley towards a steep-sided gulley at the base. These
platforms, the largest of which measures approximately 40m by 12m, are thought
to mark the locations of timber houses and other structures related to the
medieval settlement at Church End. The three main terraces are divided by two
trackways worn into the slope and orientated north to south. A narrow and
largely infilled drainage channel runs eastwards towards the gulley from the
lowest platform, flanked to the south by a low bank of upcast which is
believed to have resulted from successive cleaning of the channel.

The medieval date of the remains is confirmed by a large quantity of pottery
fragments retrieved during the removal of topsoil from part of the site in the
1970s. Similar pottery was found during the construction of the Guildhall
Cottages in 1962, indicating that the settlement originally extended further
around the southern side of the church. The Guildhall itself, which lies
immediately to the south of the church and is now a private house, was
mentioned in a will dated 1501 and probably dates from the late 15th century.
In the 1830s a number of graves were found in the field to the east of the
church, the burials were accompanied by weapons and pottery vessels indicating
an Anglo-Saxon date. The church itself is essentially a 14th and 15th century
structure, although an earlier version is mentioned in a grant of 1096 and it
may have originated in the late Anglo-Saxon period. It has been suggested that
the early church was built as a minster in the reign of King Cnut following
the battle of Assandun in 1016, the site of which has been tentatively
identified with Ashdon.

The stables located toward the northern boundary of the pasture and all fences
and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these items is included.

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 last 1500 years or more.
The monument lies in the Anglian sub-Province of the south western Province, a
rolling low plateau, drift-covered and dissected, which is characterised by
significantly lower densities of hamlets, villages and market towns than the
Midlands. It is notable for the consistent presence of medium to very high
densities of dispersed settlements - isolated halls, large farmsteads and
churches - in landscapes possessing large numbers of moated sites and loosely
structured hamlets bearing `green' names. All were formerly associated with
long chains of roadside commons linking together the larger blocks of common
land. This is an ancient, intricate landscape.
The North West Essex local region is on chalky glacial clays. Domesday Book
shows that in 1086 the area was well settled, even though still densely
wooded. High numbers of medieval moated sites and large numbers of settlements
with the place name `green' are elements in a settlement pattern dominated by
medium and high densities of dispersed settlements, as it was in the Middle

The medieval settlement remains immediately east of All Saints Church
represent part of a more extensive settlement which developed around the
church in the medieval period. Although much of this settlement has been
obscured by the subsequent development of the village, this surviving area
represents a sizeable proportion of the original settlement in which evidence
for the nature of the settlement is very well preserved.

The terraced platforms will retain evidence for structures, accompanied by a
range of other buried features such a boundaries, refuse pits and drainage
channels related to the life of the settlement. Artefacts found in association
with these features will provide insights into the date and duration of
occupation, and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Environmental evidence may
also be recovered, illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the
settlement was set and providing information about its agricultural regime.

The discovery of Anglo-Saxon burials in the western part of the pasture in the
1830s provides a significant indication of the early origin of the settlement,
which may prove to be related to the foundation of the 11th century minster
following the political turbulence at the beginning of King Cnut's reign.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hart, C, The Early Charters of Essex, (1958), 16
Rodwell, WJ, 'CBA Research Report No.19' in Historic Churches a wasting asset, , Vol. 19, (1977), 95
Antiquity Model and Notes, Ordnance Survey, TL 54 SE 31, (1976)
Architectural notes, 4773 Guildhall, (1985)
Architectural notes, 4774/5 Ashdon Hall, (1985)
Field notes, Hedges, JD & Petchey, MR, 4776: Ashdon Hall-Church End medieval complex, (1976)
RCHME, Inventory of Historic Monuments, Essex, (1924)

Source: Historic England

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