Ancient Monuments

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Early medieval settlement, palace, church and Bronze Age ring ditches 340m east of Cowage Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Norton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.5736 / 51°34'25"N

Longitude: -2.1354 / 2°8'7"W

OS Eastings: 390713.118044

OS Northings: 186093.946629

OS Grid: ST907860

Mapcode National: GBR 1PT.6Y1

Mapcode Global: VH95R.XQZ0

Entry Name: Early medieval settlement, palace, church and Bronze Age ring ditches 340m east of Cowage Farm

Scheduled Date: 30 March 1984

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018389

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31645

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Norton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Foxley with Bremilham

Church of England Diocese: Bristol


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes the remains of an early
medieval or Saxon settlement, palace, church and Bronze Age ring ditches
located to the east and south east of Cowage Farm on the south bank
of the River Avon, 3km south west of Malmesbury.
On the north side of the road the site is visible largely as cropmarks which
indicate the outline of a number of rectangular buildings, each about 14m long
and 7m wide, occupying a small limestone plateau overlooking the flood plain
of the river. Amongst these is a substantial hall aligned north-south with
annexes at either end. Associated with this are a number of fenced enclosures.
To the east of the main group of buildings is a rectangular ditched enclosure
containing a large structure aligned east-west with an apse on the east end
interpreted as a church. To the east of this are a further four rectangular
structures scattered over a wide area.
On the south side of the road the fenced enclosures continue and there are
another two rectangular buildings as well as two earlier ring ditches or
levelled Bronze Age burial mounds, one appearing to be segmented. Towards the
flood plain of the river, where the field is under pasture there is a further
feature visible as an earthwork, interpreted as a substantial platform 25m
long and 15m wide overlooking the river. The platform has a hollow in the
middle interpreted as evidence of robbing.
Partial excavation has revealed that the site represents a settlement of
Middle Saxon date including a substantial hall and church standing in its own
All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these features 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.
This monument lies in the Cotswold Scarp and Vales sub-Province of the Central
Province, a scarp and vale landscape extending south eastwards from the clays
and alluvium of the Severn Plain, over the limestones of the Cotswolds to the
Oxford Clay Vale. Villages and hamlets concentrate thickly in the Severn
Valley and the Vale of Pewsey, but are only moderately dense elsewhere. They
are most thinly scattered on the higher ridge of the north east Cotswolds, an
area where in 1851 there were low populations and frequent deserted villages.
Overall, there are very low concentrations of dispersed farmsteads, the only
exceptions being the Vale of Pewsey and the Upper Avon and Thames watershed.

The Early Medieval settlement near Cowage Farm is a good example of this rare
type of monument preserved beneath the ploughline. Partial excavation has
shown it will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The
Bronze Age burial monuments demonstrate continuity of use over some 3000

Source: Historic England


Hinchcliffe, J, Cowage Farm Foxley Wiltshire : An interim report, 1983,
Hinchcliffe, J, Cowage Farm Foxley Wiltshire : An interim report, 1983,

Source: Historic England

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