When I started writing my PhD, I made a conscious decision to include North-West Shropshire with the parameters of my data collection. Which, on the face of it, doesn’t appear to be that exciting or ground breaking.
Apart from the small matter that Shropshire is in England and I was also looking at sites in Wales.
When I began reading round the topic I noticed how the Wales – England border defined the remit of book writers, even when the border, in this case, is a permeable construct. Families have, and will always live on both sides of the border for various reasons, so I failed to understand why the books stop when the archaeology, history, geology and topography don’t?
In some cases I do understand why. Books can be commissioned by national organisations, who by definition, have to stop at the border. But other books, not bound by this parameter, do not.
North-West Shropshire is an integral part of my study. Without reference to it, how would I understand the influences being passed by medieval families living both sides of the border?
Goods and Services also travelled across the border, and can now be found as archaeological finds or written records.
The research into the area around Wem, Oswestry, Whitchurch and Ellesmere is progressing very well, and I’m looking forward to be able to add the information I’ve collated to the already rich record. And as an example the medieval park at Coton near Whixall is perfect.
The park at Coton is mentioned in the Domesday Book. But then, for some reason, references are lacking. It may be that the park didn’t attract any paperwork, simply because the family who owned were not litigated against. Normally, a park only crops up in the record when somebody either breaks into it, or feels they should own part of it for one reason or another.
The park is mentioned in a Survey of 1561 – but appears by this date to be much reduced in size, and by 1833, it surrounded Coton Hall.
The park is still visible – the oval can be seen running to the west of Coton Hall, south to Coton Farm, north with Woodend Hall on the left and then round to Woodside Farm and Home Farm.
This one example also has some visible archaeology outside the park, whilst I was mapping this park I found a building close to Coton Farm.
The Red Circle highlights the foundations of a building, whilst the blue arrow is pointing at the south east boundary of Coton Park.
Further work will enable me to work out the relationship between these two monuments and add to the archaeology of North West Shropshire.