The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas

Lower Wye Valley

020 Hadnock Fieldscape

Aerial view showing the agricultural fieldscape of HLCA020.

HLCA 020 Hadnock Fieldscape

Agricultural landscape: varied irregular pattern of curvilinear fields at the centre of the area (fossilized medieval open fields?), some 20th century amalgamation in south; traditional boundaries; Medieval/Post-medieval settlement/fields; settlement pattern: dispersed farmsteads and cottages (including minor gentry house Hadnock Hall); buried and relict archaeology: Roman settlement (villa), finds and industrial archaeology; communication features (including hollow way /Roman Road); public rail). Back to map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Hadnock Fieldscape is an agricultural landscape centred on the slopes of a small tributary valley of the Wye at the northern limits of the Wye Valley Historic Landscape. The area is bounded by the River Wye to the northwest and by the surrounding ancient woodland on all other sides. The area lies in the parish of Dixton, in the manor of Hadnock.

Occupation of the area during the Roman period is represented both by a scatter of finds, and a large complex of second/third century buildings, which provides evidence not just for settlement, but also for industrial activity in the form of metal working (Mein 1977). Settlement in the area continues into the medieval period, with a manor in the area depicted on a map of the fourteenth century (Rees 1932). The field pattern shows evidence of a fossilised medieval open field system, visible on the tithe map (1845) and extant on modern mapping (OS 2006 1:10000 Landline data).

This character area falls within Upper Hadnock, and was amongst land granted by Withenock of Monmouth to Monmouth Priory, Hadnock was then taken back by his son Baderon in exchange for three forges (Kissack 1974). John of Monmouth then endowed it to the hospital he founded in the town. Following the Dissolution of the monasteries, the area became the seat of the Huntley family, who had probably been lessees under the hospital, then passed through marriage to the Herberts. The Duchy of Lancaster then became lords of the manor, which passed to the steward and thus to the Hall family. It then descended to Lord Gage, who sold this part of Hadnock to Admiral Thomas Griffin. When his second son, who inherited this part of the estate, died without an heir, the land was then sold to Richard Blakemore, MP for Wells, (Bradney 1904) who is listed as the owner of the land in the Schedule which accompanies the tithe map.

The field pattern is little changed in the centre of the area, where curvilinear enclosures within a shallow valley are possibly indicative of medieval cultivation. The south however, shows significant amalgamation in modern OS mapping (OS 2006, 1:10000 Landline data) while the fields in the north of the area have been substantially altered by the date of the First Edition OS map (1882) due to the construction of the railway in the 1860s. This line (the Pontypool, Monmouth and Ross section, see HLCA 019) considerably changed the landscape in the north of the area, disregarding existing boundaries and running just to the south of, and parallel with, the access road to Little Hadnock. The site of Hadnock Halt, a minor conditional stop, also fell within the character area, though nothing of the site now remains. The line was closed in 1959, and was subsequently dismantled, its line now partly preserved as a public right of way (

Historic Landscape Characteristics

Hadnock Fieldscape is characterised by its agricultural landscape, which consists of a varied irregular fieldscape, characterised by curvilinear enclosures at the bottom of the valley, which is typical of fossilised medieval open fields. This field pattern remains almost unaltered from the tithe map (1845) to the First Edition OS map (1881/1882) other than the changes in the north due to the construction of the Great Western Railway. There has been significant amalgamation of fields to the south in modern (2006) mapping, although the area is relatively unchanged in the north. The characteristic field boundaries of the area are earth banks, hedges, distinctive hedgerow trees and post and wire fencing, with some dry stonewalls.

The relict archaeology of the area is important, characterised by Roman, medieval and post-medieval settlement and fields. Excavation of the Roman villa at Hadnock (PRN 02194g, NPRN 400333, SAM MM195) carried out in 1976 uncovered a large complex of buildings dating to the second and third centuries. This complex included a building with a hypocaust system, and painted plaster on internal walls (Mein, 1977, 36). Roman occupation of the area is also suggested by coins found in the area (PRN 02272g).

The fossilised medieval open field system suggests settlement of this date in the area, while there was possibly a manor here during the fourteenth century (Rees 1932, SE sheet). There is also important post-medieval activity in the area, as demonstrated by Hadnock Court. This house (PRN 02271g, NPRN 402652, LB 85205) dates to the early seventeenth century, with alterations and additions dating to c1700, as well as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is constructed of rendered stone, with a slate roof, and several of the associated buildings are also protected by Grade II Listed Building status. These include a barn (LB 85185), which probably dates to 1700, and a combination farm building (LB 85189), which probably dates to the same period as the original house, with alterations being contemporary with those to the main house. Additionally, the gate piers and gates are separately protected by grade II status (LB 85198). The settlement in the area can be characterised as a loosely dispersed scatter of farmhouses and cottages, the majority of which are in existence at least from the date of the tithe map (1843), and which are generally constructed of painted coursed stone with slate roofs.

The industrial character of the area is represented by remains of the Roman period; the Hadnock villa complex (PRN 02194g, NPRN 400333, SAM MM195) produced evidence of metalworking. The excavations at Hadnock revealed a bowl furnace for the reworking of bronze, along with finds, including a large bloom, which indicate iron-smelting activity (Mein 1977). Further industrial activity of the Roman period in the area exists at two other sites; an iron furnace (PRN 02962g) and a bloomery (PRN 02963g). Other finds recorded in the regional HER (PRN's 02272g, 02964g, 03866g, 03867g, 03868g, 03869g, 03871g, 03845g, 03846g) suggest a high potential for the survival of other buried remains.

Communication links are represented the winding route of the A4136 road, which runs through the south of the area. In addition a minor lane and footpath provides access to Little Hadnock. The Ross and Monmouth branch of the Great Western Railway, constructed in the 1860s and opened in 1873, ran from east to west through the area. Although this closed in 1965 and has now been dismantled, ( the line still exists, defined by a track and adjacent field boundaries. There is a Hollow Way (PRN 07779g), which defines the west boundary of the area at the border with the area of woodland known as Lady Grove. This is depicted on First and Second Edition OS maps (1881, 1901) as a Roman Road, and is known locally as the Royal Road, thought to be one of the main exits from the Royal Forest of Dean. Although its origin is unknown, its depth, up to three to four metres in places, suggests considerable age.