Ancient Monuments

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Rabbit warren 800m east of Woodlane Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Lydiard Millicent, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.5689 / 51°34'7"N

Longitude: -1.9383 / 1°56'17"W

OS Eastings: 404371.778551

OS Northings: 185558.736993

OS Grid: SU043855

Mapcode National: GBR 3SQ.NR1

Mapcode Global: VHB3B.CT4N

Entry Name: Rabbit warren 800m east of Woodlane Farm

Scheduled Date: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019730

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34202

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Lydiard Millicent

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: West Swindon and the Lydiards

Church of England Diocese: Bristol


The monument includes a rabbit warren in a clearing, within Webb's Wood, known
as Skinner's Ground. The wood is a fragment of the former Bradon Forest
situated on the low lying Oxford Clay Vale in the north of Wiltshire.
The monument includes evidence for the warrener's cottage and two pillow
mounds. The cottage survives as a rectangular platform 0.4m high, 14m long
from east to west and 9m wide from north to south.
South of the platform are the two pillow mounds, 14m long and 5.5m wide
orientated north-south and standing to a height of 0.4m. Other slight
earthworks in the area may represent features associated with the warren such
as vermin traps. The character of these is not clear and they are not included
in the scheduling.
Skinner's Ground is shown as a clearing on a map of 1776, although no
buildings are shown, suggesting that the cottage was disused by this time.
Foundations of buildings were recorded here in the 19th century.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction
of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number
of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well-preserved sites of later date will also
merit protection.

The rabbit warren 800m east of Woodlane Farm within Webb's Wood is a small but
well preserved example which provides an important insight into the economy of
Bradon Forest.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Mc Knight, W H E, Lydiard Manor; its history, (1892), 17
WRO 305/11/1, Survey of the manor of Lydiard Tregoze, (1766)

Source: Historic England

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