Site of Medieval Settlement at Wishaw Hill Farm

Description of this historic site

The site of a Medieval settlement, fishpond, and moat which are visible as earthworks. It is situated 700m north of St Chad's Church, Wishaw.

Notes about this historic site

1 In the fields around Wishaw Hall Farm are the remains of a Medieval settlement, including a complex of fishponds (WA 6124) and a possible moated site (WA 55). The largest part of the settlement, including the fishponds and possible moat, lies in the fields opposite Wishaw Hall Farm, east of Grove Lane, but it is likely that the settlement originally also extended west of the Lane, under the farm and to the south and west. Up until the 1970s the remains east of the lane survived as earthworks. The possible moat is shown as an L-shaped ditch in the northern corner of the field on the 1887 OS 1:10560 map. The earthworks were surveyed in 1969. The moat was interpreted as part of the fishpond complex (WA 6124). The survey also identified a series of rectilinear enclosures to the east and south. In 1972 pottery was observed within the possible moat. The former earthworks were fieldwalked in 1980-1 and a total of 76 sherds of Medieval pottery were collected with concentrations around the possible moat and on the southern of the site (Refs WH 80 1-4, WH 81 5-7). It was suggested that the concentrations represented dwellings.
2 Fieldwalking by the OAU in 1992 found further scatters of medieval pottery on the west side of Grove Lane opposite Well Cottage and north west of Shepherd’s Cottage suggesting that the Medieval settlement may also have extended over this area and that of the farm.
3 An evaluation was carried out by the OAU in 1993 in advance of possible road construction in order to investigate the hypothesis of an extensive planned 13th century settlement around Wishaw Hall Farm. Trial trenching produced relatively little evidence for occupation, and it was clear that severe truncation of the remains east of the fishponds had taken place. The paucity of evidence also suggested that settlement had not actually been developed in all of the possible eastern plots, or in the area opposite Well Cottage. However, the trenches did reveal the fishponds (MWA 6124) and possible moat (MWA 55).
4 Trial trenching carried out as part of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road project uncovered something of the layout and functionality of the former fishponds including water supply channels, “stews” – distribution/storage ponds, possible breeding ponds, one of which may have had a netting facility for keeping herons and other predators at bay, remains of timber structures and a building that may have served as an open-fronted shed or workshop. A series of ditches south west of the fishponds may represent tenement boundaries.
5 In Domesday Book, the recorded population of the villa of Wishaw is 3 villani and 4 bordarii. This suggests settlement dispersion by the late 11th century, and possibly the development of hamlets. A priest is mentioned in Domesday Book; they could have ministered in a private chapel in a manor-house complex, or in a church on a different site to the existing one. The manor-house could have been the moated site in the earthworks at Wishaw Hall Farm. The isolated church could have been built in the 13th century to serve a number of scattered settlements.
6 The fishpond complex, field boundaries and a medieval building were recorded during excavations in advance of construction of the M6 toll. A number of ponds were recorded, as detailed under MWA6124. The foundation trench for a rectangular building aligned north-south was located.There were no postholes at the trench terminals suggesting that it was probably of timber-framed cruck or box-frame construction in a beam slot, with a timber-framed thatched roof.The building was found with relatively large amounts of domestic refuse, and is a similar size range to those at Burton Dassett Southend. The structure is possibly a timber-framed Midlands ‘fish house’ providing accomadation for both fish-keeper and equipment. A number of field and property boundaries were also recorded. A mid 14th century date is suggested for the dramatic contraction of the settlement at Wishaw.
7 Portable Antiquities Scheme find provenance information:
Date found: 2001-01-01T00:00:00Z
Methods of discovery: Metal detector

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