Shrunken Medieval Settlement at Priors Hardwick

Description of this historic site

Earthwork remains of a Medieval shrunken village at Priors Hardwick. Priors Hardwick is first recorded as one of 24 vills given to Earl Leofric to found the monastery at Coventry, the grant was confirmed by Edward the Confessor in 1024.

Notes about this historic site

1 In Medieval times, Priors Hardwick was more important than Priors Marston, and Marston was a chapelry of Hardwick at least until the Dissolution. In the Lay Subsidy Roll c1332, the population of Marston and Hardwick were similar, but in the 16th century Marston was outstripping Hardwick and this process has continued to the present day. The Prior of Coventry was presumably the instigator of the depopulation, but no documentary evidence has survived.
2 See individual cards for details.
3 A settlement is first recorded as one of 24 vills granted to Earl Leofric to found a monastery at Coventry, the grant was confrimed by Edward the Confessor in 1024. By the time of the Domesday Survey the settlement amounted to 15 hides among the Priory estates. The population of the village was falling during th 16th century and it is believed that desertion, in favour of sheep pastures, soon followed. the present village contains buildings largely of the 18th century and results from later regrowth of the settlement on a different alignment. The earthwork remains represent a series of regular tofts and crofts defined by banks and ditches forming enclosures including some subdivided plots that also contain house platforms.
4 Geophysical survey and trial trenching (EWA7261, centred on SP47375613), identified two features on the periphery of the settlement. One a linear feature dating to the medieval period and a shallow linear and pit from which no dating evidence was recovered. Geophysical plots of 0.65ha and 40m of trial trenching targetted on features.
5 Archaeological observation during soil stripping for the construction of a menage (EWA7340, centred on SP47405614), revealed a former field boundary ditch but no medieval remains. Three undated possible pit features may have been horticultural in origin.

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