Project Info


The River Wye




The Iron Age hill-forts in the study area. Cherry Hill in Fownhope parish is covered in woods; Gaer Cop in Hentland has been heavily ploughed down over the centuries. Capler in Brockhampton parish remains substantially intact. These major sites were in a landscape of mixed farming with scattered farmsteads which we are only just beginning to discover.


The early medieval period, between the end of Roman Britain and the coming of the Norman-French to the area, saw the founding of numerous Christian churches by native British bishops such as St Dubricius (the Latinised form of Dyfrig). Dyfrig was operating in this area long before St Augustine arrived to convert the Germanic Angles and Saxons. The churches above are recorded as being earlier than the Norman Conquest. However, there is no reason to suppose that these churches formed the centres of settlements.

At the time of Domesday there is a clear distinction between the Welsh areas in the south-west and the areas which had been settled by the English. The places above are all mentioned in Domesday apart from Billengsley, which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle rerecords as being the site of the peace treaty between the English and the Welsh in 1055

Places known from Domesday and before - green area Welsh: black are English

Circles represent the relative sizes of hidages of the manors in Domesday: squares have no given hidage.


There is, and has been for several centuries, a parochial structure in the area. However, the settlement pattern is largely unrelated to the parishes.

The townships - villata - of the area according to the taxation of 1525 with number of named taxpayers


Settlement pattern around 1840. Each black dot is an inhabited house. Red spots are the parish churches. The two green spots show the old Chapel of St John at Fawley and, to the east, the then new chapel of St Dubricius at Hoarwithy (later rebuilt as an Italianate church and dedicated to St Catherine).


Nucleated settlements


Fownhope is the only 'classic' nucleated English village settlement in the area, with a parish church and manor house and houses laid out along a main street.



Holme Lacy seems to once have been nucleated and grouped around its church. There are earthworks around the church and traces of stone buildings. There are also traces of a ridge and furrow field system surrounding the area. The present village is 2 kilometres to the north-west.


Riverside settlements

Several settlements in the area are based on the River Wye - fishing, ferrying and services for river traffic providing the livelihood of the inhabitants

Even Pits just south of Mordiford on the Wye on the Fownhope tithe map of 1843. Her there were wharves for Wye barges: the top building on this plan was 'The Warehouse', down below was the Anchor Inn, used by bargees.



After the toll-bridge was built


All that's left of the Anchor in 2006


Wilton in 1904. Ford and ferry settlement with Wilton Castle guarding the river crossing.


Hoarwithy - medieval crossing place on the Wye


Squatter settlements

Common land was often colonised by people building houses on it. These would be fenced into small enclosures for gardens. This activity leaves a characteristic dispersed settlement plan.

Common Hill in Fownhope parish is the largest squatter settlement in the area.



The centre of the Common Hill settlement



Lower (left) and Upper Grove in Sellack parish. Sellack tithe map.


The beginnings of the squatter settlement at Buckcastle Hill on this estate map of 1755.

'Pye' in Peterstow parish is now called Broome Farmhouse.


Buckcastle Hill on the Bridstow tithe map of 1839. The number of houses have increased considerably.


A settlement at a cross-roads - St Owen's cross in Hentland parish


Settlement on an old castle site - Chapel Tump in Hentland parish

The origins of this settlement lie in the medieval township of Treaddow - local names include Great Treaddow, Little Treaddow and Treaddow Cottage


Red Rail at Hoarwithy - this group of houses is near a ford but may have been part of a settlement known as Henfrowther in the 16th century. Llanfrother is the current version and survives as a  farmhouse. The ultimate origin is likely to have been the site of St Dyfrig's 6th century monastery.



Back to TOP


Wye Valley History pages

maintained by Archenfield Archaeology Ltd


This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.