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Deerhurst monastic site and multi-period settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Deerhurst, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.9665 / 51°57'59"N

Longitude: -2.1894 / 2°11'21"W

OS Eastings: 387080.402552

OS Northings: 229800.03412

OS Grid: SO870298

Mapcode National: GBR 1JW.R85

Mapcode Global: VH93T.0TCT

Entry Name: Deerhurst monastic site and multi-period settlement

Scheduled Date: 4 December 1951

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018632

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28851

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Deerhurst

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Deerhurst St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes areas of Romano British occupation, a Saxon royal vill,
a Saxon and medieval monastic site, and a medieval settlement in and around
the village of Deerhurst, where the floodplain of the River Severn meets a low
spur of higher ground.
The monument can be divided into three areas; on the north side of the village
is the Saxon and medieval ecclesiastical complex, defined on its west, east
and south sides by earthwork banks and ditches; to the south of this complex,
separated by the village street, is an oval area of land, again defined by
banks and ditches, which contains Odda's Chapel and the area of the Saxon
royal vill; and at the east end of the village street are the platforms and
hollow ways of medieval settlement remains. In addition to these three defined
and adjacent areas, Romano-British settlement evidence occurs in two
concentrations: the earlier material from the vicinity of Odda's Chapel, where
there is also evidence of a Roman villa in the field to the south of the
Chapel; the second concentration is to the north and west of St Mary's Church.
The medieval priory followed the Saxon monastery on the same site and two of
its standing buildings, St Mary's Church and Priory Farm house, survive. Some
elements of the church, specifically the nave, the lower part of the west
porch and two pairs of porticus are associated with the earliest mention of
the Saxon monastery in 804. Remaining elements of the Saxon monastery and
earlier associations with Romano-British burials have been discovered by
excavation beneath and around the church. The Priory Farm house, to the south
east of the church, is a mainly 14th century building. On the west side of the
house and on the south side of the adjoining church are the corbels which once
sustained the pentice of the cloister. The existing farmhouse therefore stands
on the east side of the Benedictine cloister. To the north east and south east
of the farmhouse are four dried up, or almost dry, fishponds associated with
the priory. These vary in size, two being about 40m long by 14m wide, a third
about 40m by 30m, and the fourth forming a dog-leg with its longest side being
about 60m long and the short side 30m. To the west of the church a ditch
partly inside and partly outside the churchyard is considered to be part of a
precinct boundary, represented to the east and south of the church by earthen
banks. To the south west of this, the village street forms a hollow way
between the banks of the ecclesiastical site and banks and ditches which
demarcate on oval area of land which is considered to enclose the Saxon Royal
vill. The Saxon chapel, known as `Odda's Chapel', lies in the northern
quadrant of this area. This chapel, which was dedicated in 1056, consists of a
nave and chancel, and has two double splayed round headed windows, one of
which still retains part of a wooden window frame in situ. In the field to the
south of the chapel, spreads of burnt material together with a considerable
amount of Romano-British building debris, indicate the presence of a Roman
settlement interpreted as a villa. The earthworks of the medieval settlement
at the south east end of the village street show at least ten house platforms
with a main street from which side streets emanate. These earthworks stand to
0.8m high, and beyond them to the south east are part of the medieval
agricultural fields of the village showing as ridge and furrow, the remainder
having been levelled by cultivation.
Excavation has taken place in Deerhurst over a number of years; in 1971 Philip
Rahtz undertook some limited work in the ruined apse of the church. Throughout
the 1970s various small scale excavations and watching briefs were undertaken
by Rahtz, Lorna Watts and Mark Horton both in the vicinity of the church and
Odda's Chapel. In 1972 the Roman material to the south of the chapel was
observed during earth moving operations. In the 1990s Gloucestershire County
Council undertook a number of investigations and watching briefs in the area
of Deerhurst Priory Farm, recovering medieval and Romano-British evidence.
All this evidence suggests a sequence of occupation beginning in the Romano-
British period with the villa dated to between the 2nd and 4th centuries.
Evidence for past occupation continues through to the present day, where house
plots represent later 20th century abandonments, the result of flooding in the
Severn Valley.
Deerhurst had a particular significance in the medieval period. Edmund
Ironside met Cnut there in 1016 to decide on the partition of England; this
importance is reinforced by the construction of a Royal Hall and the
dedication of Odda's Chapel in 1056. The chapel was built by Odda in honour of
his brother Aelfric; both were kinsmen of the king. Odda bequethed the manor
of Deerhurst to Edward the Confessor, who subsequently granted it to
Westminster Abbey in 1065. Odda's chapel continued in use until the 13th
century. In the 16th century alterations were made to the upper storey of the
chancel and the nave became a kitchen with an open hearth. The priory remained
in existence until its dissolution in 1540, after which the buildings were
used as a farm. The remaining monastic buildings were demolished in the
18th century. The manor of Deerhurst remained in the posession of Westminster
until 1896, when it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
Odda's Chapel is in the care of the Secretary of State. Odda's Chapel, the
Church of St Mary, and Deerhurst Priory Farmhouse are Listed Grade I.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are St Mary's
Church and the Priory Farmhouse, all telegraph poles, modern field boundaries,
all gates and stiles, water troughs and the platforms on which they stand,
outbuildings and garden features and all road and path surfaces; the ground
beneath all these features is, however, included. The property known as the
`Laurels' is completely excluded from the scheduling.
The churchyard is not included in the scheduling, as it is still used for

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597
monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in
the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities including monasteries
were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-
brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of
systematic discipline. The main components of the earliest monasteries might
include two or three small timber or stone churches, a cemetery and a number
of associated domestic buildings, contained within an enclosure or vallum.
Those sites which have been excavated indicate no standard layout of buildings
was in use. Rather a great diversity of building form, construction,
arrangement and function is evident. The earliest sites were not markedly
dissimilar from contemporary secular settlements, although their
ecclesiastical role may be indicated by the presence of objects indicating
wealth and technological achievement, such as stone sculpture, coloured glass,
inscriptions, high quality metalwork and pottery. Only the church and leading
secular figures are thought to have had access to the skills and trade
networks which produced such goods. Later foundations in the 10th and 11th
centuries generally had one major stone church and a cemetery. By this time
other domestic buildings were more regularly aligned, often ranged around a
cloister. Documentary sources indicate the existence of 65 early monasteries.
The original number of sites is likely to have been slightly higher and would
have included sites for which no documentary reference survives. Of these,
less than 15 can at present be linked to a specific site. As a rare monument
type and one which made a major contribution to the development of Anglo-Saxon
England, all pre-Conquest monasteries for men exhibiting survival of
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The pre-Conquest monastery at Deerhurst is an early foundation which has been
shown, by excavation, to contain evidence of its Saxon origins. The church of
the monastery, St Mary's, is the most complete of Gloucester's Saxon churches
and is the only one which can be said to have fabric surviving from the 8th
century. Odda's Chapel, which is part of the Deerhurst complex, is one of the
most complete Saxon churches surviving, and, unusually, is precisely dated.
Documentary sources attest to the significance of Deerhurst during the
medieval period, while evidence from excavations combined with earthwork
survey demonstrate continuous occupation from the 2nd century to the present

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Heighway, C, Deerhurst St Mary and Gloucester St Oswald: two Saxon Minsters, (1994)
Heighway, C, Deerhurst St Mary and Gloucester St Oswald: two Saxon Minsters, (1994)
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 231
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 153-183
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 183
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 161-2
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 230-232
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 151-2
Rahtz, P, Watts, L, St Mary's Church Deerhurst Gloucestershire, (1997), 231
Rodwell, K, The Development of Odda's Chapel, Deerhust, Gloucestershire, (1993), 1-2

Source: Historic England

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