Archaeology and Landscape: Medieval

Rural Worcestershire

During the medieval period large areas of the Worcestershire landscape was open (unenclosed by hedgerow or walled boundaries). Areas of contiguous common, heathland, wetland and woodland were intermixed with cultivated land, parkland and Royal Forest. Cultivated land reached its fullest extent in the 13th century and was either organised into large open fields, subdivided into strips, or enclosed fields with irregular boundaries. Open fields were concentrated around nucleated villages in the east and south east of the county.

During the 15th century there was a large-scale decline in arable cultivation, as sheep farming became more profitable, and an acceleration in the abandonment and shrinkage of rural settlements, (especially in the open-field economies associated with nucleated settlement) and the amalgamation and growth of farm holdings. Shrunken Medieval Villages are typically characterised by a cluster of high status farmsteads/manors, often with medieval buildings, cottages and a church or chapel. Villages were often completely abandoned and many of these Deserted Medieval Settlements (DMVs) are recognisable as earthworks or cropmarks in the modern landscape.

Research Questions

Forthcoming…