Wolvey Before the Norman Conquest

Wolvey village sign, 2013.
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Mat Fascione - geograph.org.uk/p/4185977

Stone tools found in the glacial deposits of the area are of Palaeolithic type but as they are casual surface finds, little can be interpreted from them. These glacial soils, however, are well-drained and easily managed sand and gravel. They seem to have been the reason for the later settlement in Wolvey in prehistoric times. In contrast there is boulder clay on the south side of the village, which was probably forested at that time. Access to Wolvey then would most likely have been along the rivers Anker (from the Tame and the Trent) or the Little Soar (from the Soar and the Trent) or by a third stream which passes through Withybrook to join the Sowe, and eventually the Avon. Thus, Wolvey is a watershed, and the source of three tributaries feeding important rivers.

Flint-knapping sites

Evidence of Late Neolithic and Bronze Age activity, some 4,000 years ago, is abundant in the area. A number of fields have yielded evidence of flint tools with some stray finds, but others are more likely to represent flint-knapping sites; the nature of the flint suggests it was brought to Wolvey to be worked into tools for the local community. The tools include arrowheads, knives and scrapers; indicating that hunting and the preparation of animal skins took place here. A number of mounds in the area, built of turf, are likely to cover the burials of some of Wolvey’s Bronze Age inhabitants. There are also ring ditches and ‘henge-type’ sites.

Roman roads

Aerial photography suggests that there were farmsteads of Iron Age and Roman date in the area, and discoveries at Copston point to a Roman villa there. Two Roman roads, built by the army early in the occupation, form the present-day boundaries of Wolvey and adjoining Copston. One of them (the Fosse Way, a prehistoric trackway) formed the first Roman frontier following the invasion in AD43. The other, Watling Street, was where Boudicca, queen of one of the British tribes was defeated not far from Wolvey. At the intersection of the two roads, the Roman settlement of Venonis (now High Cross) developed. The significance of these two roads can been seen in the third century AD Antonine Itinerary showing routes throughout the Roman Empire; three of these routes pass through Venonis. The Wolvey area has been strategically placed in the national transportation network ever since Roman times.

Little is known about the area in Anglo-Saxon times. By the tenth century AD, the Mercian retreat had left it in border country, with Watling Street forming a boundary between Anglo-Saxon and the Danelaw lands.

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