Progress report January 2015

Beresford’s Lost Villages website is still a work in progress. All 2,263 deserted village sites listed in 1968 appear on the site – each has an individual record with lots of useful information such a the taxation records, the number of the relevant record on the local Historic Environment Record (HER) and National Monument Record (NMR) as well as the suggested location of the site. This short report updates on the progress being made at adding further information to these records, which is being tackled on a county by county basis. Up to now we have managed to complete the process for the pre-1974 counties up to Essex. At the moment we are in the process of reviewing Gloucestershire.

What does this review entail?

Well it is at this point we check a number of aspects of the data for each settlement as well as writing a brief description of each site. In a future blog we will explore in more detail the process of writing a description of a site, but this entails locating as much information about the archaeology and history of the site, reviewing old maps, aerial photographs and evaluating the data that already forms part of the record. More often than not it is at this stage that we find the grid reference listed in 1968 in the Gazetteer of Deserted Medieval Villages (Beresford and Hurst 1971), is not actually placed over the site of the village. This may be due to recent work which has pinpointed the village more accurately, may be that the original location was placed over a particular feature such as a church, which is no longer seen as the centre of the settlement, or a simple error occurred in the original record. We have already found a number of typos that had occurred in 1968 with the wrong grid square letters being used for example. It is only really when sites are reviewed on an individual basis that these mistakes are picked-up. We are also thankful for the eagled-eyed users of the website who have been emailing in with corrections to the locations – it is really only when you have people with the specific local knowledge that these things are easily identified – please continue to let us know!!!!

Once all the evidence has been compiled – we then evaluate the material to categorise the site – is it a deserted settlement – or has it shrunk, migrated, shifted or actually is it doubtful there was ever a settlement there?

Gloucestershire

Progress so far on Gloucestershire is going well but was hampered by Christmas…. In 1968 there were 67 settlements listed – we have reviewed the evidence for around 50 of these so far… hopefully by the middle of February we will have completed this review and all the new data can be added to the website. As a taster of what is to come here are some highlights (full references to all sources will be available in the finished product) ….

Ampney St. Mary

There are two sites that have been classed as the deserted settlement at Ampney St. Mary – resulting in confusion. The church of St Mary stands isolated close to Ampney Brook. The church contains twelfth century elements.  This is the site that the HER and NMR record as the deserted medieval village of Ampney St. Mary.  The Gazetteer in 1968 listed the location as close to the current settlement of Ampney St. Mary (also known as Ashbrook). Here a field visit in 1988 noted areas of limestone rubble. All the evidence currently points to a settlement that at some point migrated locations.

Castlett Farm

At least 14 house platforms have been plotted at the site, along a northwest-southeast running hollow way. Medieval pottery was reported during construction work and an evaluation in 2005 revealed a ditch in-filled in the eleventh and twelfth century. Castlett is recorded in the Domesday Book with a minimum population of 4. In 1327 five people are assessed.  In 1334 a below average Lay Subsidy is paid. In 1381 four people paid the Poll Tax. The documentary evidence suggests a small settlement.

Farmcote

Farmcote was a grange of Hailes Abbey. A number of earthworks are associated with this grange and part of the existing farm and barn may be medieval in origin. The earthworks include croft platforms, hollow ways, and a fishpond. It is recorded in the Domesday Book with a minimum population of 17. In 1327 12 people were assessed. An average amount is paid in the 1334 Lay Subsidy. In 1381 26 people are taxed and by 1563 four households are recorded. There still exits a number of properties at this site and it appears to be a shrunken settlement.

Farmcote (c) Google Earth
Farmcote (c) Google Earth

Frocester

This site has been identified due to the presence of St Peter’s Church 1.5km to the west of the present settlement. The church has been mainly destroyed, but areas have been excavated which shows evidence of a Roman villa, followed by a Norman church constructed on the site. The area surrounding the church shows no evidence of settlement remains, but ridge and furrow is present. There has been extensive excavation and fieldwork carried out in the parish enabling a detailed understanding of settlement development from the pre-Roman period onwards. For further information on this project see Gloucestershire Archaeology.

It has also been shown that the parish of Frocester included a number of small dispersed settlements, many of which were abandoned in the thirteenth century. There is no clear evidence of settlement in the area of St Peter’s Church and a variety of reasons for the isolated location of the church can be postulated.

Frocester - St Peter's Church (c) Google Earth
Frocester – St Peter’s Church (c) Google Earth

Hullasey

Extensive earthworks of the village of Hullasey are now engulfed in Hullasey Grove, which has preserved the remains, some which stand to 1m high.  They include a north-south hollow way with a shorter east-west section at the southern end. A survey in 1981-2 recorded 30 buildings and a possible five others. A chapel existed by 1349 and was still there in the eighteenth century but by this time was used as a barn. Excavations in 1907 revealed two houses and a large building which was suggested to be the manor house, but has more recently described as four separate buildings. The excavations also located the chapel.  From both the archaeological and historical evidence it would suggest this settlement was deserted in the fifteenth century.

Hullasey Grove (c) Google Earth
Hullasey Grove (c) Google Earth

As work progresses we will keep you informed.

As to the future developed of the website it is hoped that funding will be secured to enable the lists of deserted settlements in all counties to be brought up-to-date….

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