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Medieval settlement at Much Cowarne, immediately south east of Mill House

A Scheduled Monument in Much Cowarne, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.1185 / 52°7'6"N

Longitude: -2.5538 / 2°33'13"W

OS Eastings: 362173.964901

OS Northings: 246835.853065

OS Grid: SO621468

Mapcode National: GBR FS.8R4Y

Mapcode Global: VH85K.P07R

Entry Name: Medieval settlement at Much Cowarne, immediately south east of Mill House

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021001

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28880

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Much Cowarne

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Much Cowarne

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a medieval settlement situated in the valley of the
River Lodden with high ground to the north, south and west. About 300m to the
north west of the settlement lie the present village of Much Cowarne and its
church, which is of medieval date. Immediately south of the settlement lies
the river and Cowarne mill.

The medieval settlement includes earthwork and buried remains of building
platforms, trackways and medieval agricultural activity. There are three
trackways or hollow ways visible, which were the village streets. These three
tracks meet at the centre of the village at a triangular flat area, which has
been interpreted as a village green or market place. The triangular area is
about 24m from base to apex, with the base being 16m wide. The three hollow
ways lead off to the north east, south west and north west. The apex of the
triangular area points towards the north east and forms the entrance to the
track which leads off in that direction. This hollow way is about 3m wide and
0.5m deep. It travels upslope and there are six well-defined building
platforms cut into the slope on its western side. Each platform was originally
about 36m long and 11m wide, but they now vary between 18m and 24m in
length due to modern building development on that side of the field. These
platforms would have supported a building on the end of the platform fronting
the street, with a garden behind. On the east side of the hollow way the land
levels off to the open field, represented by the vestigial remains of
terracing and ridge and furrow cultivation which borders the settlement on
that side. At the north east end of the settlement, the hollow way and
platforms end at a ditch 0.5m wide and 0.5m deep, which marks the limit of the
settlement on this side. The hollow way from the centre of the village to the
mill travels south and then doglegs to the south west. This hollow way is
about 0.7m deep and 2m wide. There are eight platforms on the western side of
the hollow way, and two on the eastern side at the southern end. These
platforms are about 9m wide and at least 25m long, although a footpath has
reduced the platforms on the western side. The land to the east of the hollow
way is lower than that to the west, and there are slight remains of ridge and
furrow on that side. The remaining hollow way, which radiates out from the
centre of the village, runs the short distance to the north west where it
meets the edge of the field and the modern trackways. This hollow way is about
3m wide and 0.7m deep. It has three platforms on its eastern side and two on
its western. Around the village green there are three smaller platforms
generally about 9m by 4m.

The settlement has been identified as `Cuare' which is mentioned in the
Domesday Book. In 1086 it had a priest, a reeve, 26 villagers, 8 smallholders,
4 slaves and a blacksmith. This represents an unusually populous manor, and
was held by King Harold in 1066. It is thought that the settlement was a late
Saxon market centre and nascent `town'. In the 12th century, Grimbald
Pauncefot, a crusader, was lord of the manor and patron of the settlement. The
settlement held a charter with the right to hold a weekly market and an annual
fair. The mill is brick built and appears to be of 19th century date, but
since one of the village streets leads to it, there is the probability that a
medieval precursor stood on the site. No archaeological evidence of the mill
is known, however, and the mill is not therefore included in the scheduling.
To the north of the settlement, modern development has removed any of its
remains and this area is not included in the scheduling.

All fences, gates and gateposts 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 Wye-Teme sub-Province of the Northern and Western
Province, an area dominated by small hamlets and dispersed farmsteads set in
intricate, anciently enclosed landscapes which still carry significant amounts
of woodland. Domesday Book reveals that the sub-Province was already densely
settled by the time of the Norman Conquest. In the Middle Ages, communally
organised townfields supported the larger hamlets and villages in the valleys
of the middle Wye and Lugg and their tributaries, but elsewhere there were
smaller, core arable lands adjacent to small hamlets and farmstead scatters.
To the south, the Forest of Dean, wooded and with low settlement densities,
forms a distinct entity.
North of the Wye-Lugg lowland and the county town of Hereford lies a large and
extraordinarily varied local region, with sharp ridges and small plateaux
rising above the valleys of the main rivers and the headwaters of their
tributaries. Well marked boundaries are conspicuously absent. Small market
towns and villages are generally thin on the ground, but hamlets and scattered
dwellings, farmsteads and cottages are present in large numbers in countryside
landscapes dominated by hedged enclosures. Older field patterns mix with
intakes from common pastures made in the two last centuries, and some higher
lands still carry open grazing.

The medieval settlement at Much Cowarne, immediately south east of Mill
House, survives well and is a good example of its type. Documentary
evidence suggests that it was an unusually populous manor, held by King
Harold in 1066. As a possible late Saxon market centre and nascent `town'
the settlement will provide information on urbanisation, settlement
patterns and development. The earthworks are quite extensive and show
three different areas of settlement, relating to a central area. These
will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence
relating to the settlement and the landscape in which it was constructed.
The ridge and furrow, showing evidence of medieval agriculture relating to
the settlement, will provide information on the growth and development of
the settlement over a long period of time.

Source: Historic England


Report by Keith Ray CAO, (2000)
Report by Keith Ray CAO, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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