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Medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm

A Scheduled Monument in St James's, Dudley

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5107 / 52°30'38"N

Longitude: -2.1237 / 2°7'25"W

OS Eastings: 391700.768662

OS Northings: 290315.918232

OS Grid: SO917903

Mapcode National: GBR 4FF.8C

Mapcode Global: VH91B.45M4

Entry Name: Medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017806

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30015

County: Dudley

Electoral Ward/Division: St James's

Built-Up Area: Dudley (Dudley)

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Lower Gornal, St James the Great

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

Details

The monument includes the surviving buried and earthwork remains of a medieval
settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm, as well as surviving sections of a deer park
pale. The settlement forms a sub-rectangular area which lies largely on a
south-facing slope to the south of Cooper's Bank Farm, between Himley
Road to the north east and Cooper's Bank Road to the north west, and bounded
to the south by the line of a former mineral railway.
The remains take the form of distinct enclosures delineated by banks and
ditches, believed to contain several tofts or areas where houses and other
buildings were located. The enclosures are arranged along the head of the
slope in the area of Cooper's Bank Farm and along a hollow way running
downslope to the south of the farm. This hollow way meets a second one aligned
east to west which traverses the whole of the settlement and is believed to
have linked the medieval fields to the east with fields to the west.
At the top of the slope immediately adjacent to the farm on its south side are
the earthwork and stone footings of at least two rectangular buildings
orientated north to south and measuring 4m to 6m wide by 10m to 12m long.
Immediately adjacent to the farm on the east side lies another platform
delineated by a bank which is also believed to represent a building platform.
This platform lies to the north east of a hollow way running south east
downslope to join the easternmost hollow way adjacent to the cultivation
remains.
To the south of the farm more enclosures are arranged along either side of a
hollow way which is aligned north to south running downslope from the farm and
can be traced over 170m. The best surviving enclosure lies to the west of the
hollow way at its southern end and is rectangular, measuring 80m by 30m. A
triangular enclosure lies to the west of this feature and a similar, less
distinct, enclosure lies opposite it to the east of the hollow way.
At the base of the slope, adjacent to the route of the mineral railway line,
the north-south aligned hollow way converges with the remnants of two other
hollow ways; the first, 60m long and 3m wide by 0.75m deep, is orientated
north west to south east and lies parallel to the south west edge of the
monument; the second, orientated north east to south west, is the easternmost
hollow way and lies between the settlement area and its associated medieval
field system. It is over 160m long, 6m wide and 1m to 2m deep. The
continuation of the joint route of the hollow ways is obscured by a later pond
and areas of mineral working waste, but is believed to have continued towards
the site of the mill. The site of Hunts Mill, located 300m to the south west
of the settlement, is now occupied by a later mill and is not included in the
scheduling.
To the east of the easternmost hollow way is a discrete area of medieval ridge
and furrow cultivation remains. The ridge and furrow can be seen running in
three directions, and varies in width between 3m to 5m.
The eastern edge of the ridge and furrow cultivation remains is bounded by a
later medieval deer park pale orientated north west to south east and
traversing the whole of the slope. This takes the form of a bank, 2m to 4m
wide and 1m to 3m high, with an internal ditch of similar proportions on the
eastern side of the bank. It runs up the slope in a northerly direction for
over 120m before turning through 110 degrees to run in a north easterly
direction for another 80m. This earthwork forms the largest surviving remains
of the park pale. The interior of the park lay to the east of the settlement
and may have enclosed some of the arable fields of the settlement. Traces of
the medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains in this area were visible in
1991, although they are now no longer evident and the area is not included in
the scheduling. The park is well documented and was known as the `New Park'
when it was created around 1250 by the Earls of Dudley.
The buildings of Cooper's Bank Farm, including the farmhouse stable range,
barn and cartshed (all Listed Grade II) and all the modern fences and surfaces
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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets,
paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community
devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural
landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages
provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal
point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each
parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly
during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval
villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but
often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as
enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment
these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain
well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and
long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important
information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming
economy between the regions and through time.

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 up 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 Black Country local region comprises that portion of the Upper Tame basin
which overlies the former South Staffordshire coalfield. Its hamlets and
villages are largely the result of the intensification of settlement during
the last two centuries, resulting from coalfield exploitation: the earlier
chains of dispersed farmsteads coalesced into hamlets, and hamlets expanded
into villages.
The remains of the medieval settlement at Cooper's Bank Farm and the later
deer park pale are important both in terms of the rarity of survival of pre-
industrial settlement sites in the region and because of the variety of
features which survive in the surrounding landscape. The core of the
settlement has not been disturbed by later developments, consequently
archaeological deposits will survive well. There are also areas of waterlogged
deposits in the southern part of the monument where environmental deposits
will survive providing information on the economic and environmental
conditions during the occupation of the settlement. Stone foundations of
earlier buildings can be seen in the northern part of the site near the farm
indicating the survival of occupation remains. In addition, the survival of
ridge and furrow cultivation remains and the hollow ways which connected them
to the village indicate the agricultural practices followed by the settlement.
The survival of the deer park pale encroaching upon some of the settlement's
arable land, will provide information on the relationship between the
settlement and the park and may indicate the reasons for the shrinkage of the
settlement.
Surviving documentation will allow consideration of the relationship between
the settlement and other features of a similar date in the area, and will also
allow an understanding of the wider aspect of the medieval landscape in the
area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Bolland, P, Unpublished notes, photographs and sketch survey, 1996, SMR enhanced record 4874
Jones, L R, Unpublished survey, 1992, commissioned survey for Dudley MBC

Source: Historic England

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