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Local Medieval Earthworks Destroyed

It has come to our attention that what was probably one of the best preserved medieval archaeological sites in the Market Drayton area has recently been largely destroyed.

An aerial photograph of the site, taken in 1994

(the photograph is reproduced by the kind permission of English Heritage).

The earthworks at Ridgewardine had survived in good condition for over 700 years. They were probably the remnants of attempts to establish a large farm, intended to produce goods to sell at local markets of the time, nearby in Betton and Market Drayton. The farm would have been too far from Shrewsbury Abbey to provide food and goods directly to this larger centre at that time.

The earthworks suggested a central platform for the main farm, with possible evidence of outer courtyards and buildings. The damming of a small stream to the West created a pool for folding fish stocks that could also be transported easily to market. This Benedictine farm was not of an industrial scale as utilised by neighbouring Cistercian abbeys, but the scale of preservation made it an extremely interesting example of a monastic farm of the time, although it is possible that it might have been a partially moated farmstead of an enterprising freeholder of the 14th century.

Unfortunately, the recent owners of the land have had the field extensively ploughed in 2006 and most of the visible archaeology on the site, which has survived all these centuries, has been largely destroyed.

A larger paper including information about the site is expected to be published in the Spring of 2007 in the journal “Landscape History”, with copies hopefully available in Market Drayton library for those who are interested in learning more.

Posted March 29th, 2007

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