The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project Logo The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project

Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Community Archaeology Derbyshire, Community Archaeology Leicestershire, Community Archaeology East Midlands, Mercian Archaeological     Services Community Archaeology for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Sherwood Forest,     Leicestershire and the East Midlands. Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Community     Archaeology East Midlands, Community Archaeology Leicestershire. Archaeological




Mercian Archaeological Services Community Archaeology in the East Midlands

The Cistercians of Rufford Project: Settlement Development, Dynamics and Desertion.

Award Winners 2016

for "Engaging people in the heritage, history & archaeology of Sherwood Forest".


Young Archaeology Club Sherwood Forest Trust Magna Carta Sherwood Forest

Some funders and partners:

World-wide Robin Hood Society

Robin Hood Society Feather in Your Cap Award 2016 Heritage Lottery Fund Archaeology Thynghowe Vikings Sherwood Forest Discover King John's Palace free excavation Robin Hood Town Tours
Home About Us & Contact Services Projects Publications Community Arch Testimonials Meet the Team
Talks & Workshops Experience Days Indoor Training Outdoor Training Fieldschools Events Calendar Sherwood Forest Heritage Tourism

email: info@mercian-as.co.uk

The Cistercian’s of Rufford Project is a landscape and settlement development research project, devised by Mercian to understand amongst other things; the 12th century settlement pattern of Sherwood Forest.

Rufford Abbey was founded by Gilbert de Gant in 1146.

The charter confirming the foundation was granted by King Stephen on Christmas day of that year.

Rufford was a Cisterican Monastery, a daughter house of Riveaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.

The abbey was situated just to the West of the King's Highway to York which passed from Nottingham northwards through Sherwood Forest, and the Abbey was an attractive stop-over for weary travellers on the long road through the forest.

The Abbey sat towards the northern edge of a vast tract of heathland, meadow, woodland and farmland consolidated from the possessions of the villages of Rufford, Crately, and Inkersall, granted to the Abbey. Rufford village had 8 families when the monks arrived, but was abandoned by the end of the Thirteenth Century. Crately was slower to become deserted, but villagers eventually moved to settle in nearby Edwinstowe and the village of Wellow.

It is this forced desertion of the surrounding villages that offers a potential window into the nature of settlement development up to the later 12th century.

If these settlements were abandoned at that time, they  may give clues to how villages were chosen, developed, what were the dynamics of the village morphology, and what happened on desertion.

The village of Wellow, supposedly founded in the late 12th century, which developed though the 13th century to include a market, planned layout and surrounding bank and ditch is being investigated as part of the concurrent “Landscape of Wellow Project”. Results from the two projects are an essential and key part of the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project and its research aims of understanding the settlement development of the area.

This exciting project includes LiDAR analysis, documentary research, and historic mapping, and more, and will hopefully include fieldwork over the coming years.












Picture: Mercian Archaeological Services CIC, Groin-vaulted Rufford Abbey Undercroft


The Church of the Abbey was dedicated to St Mary, and was built in the remote wastes and woods of Sherwood by the Cistercians, who favoured the isolation and separation from the world provided by the forest.

The Abbey complex included the Church, Cellar, Lay Brothers Frater, Cloister, Kitchens, Monks Frater, Warming House, Undercroft and Dormitory above, Inner Parlour, Chapter House, and Sacristy.

The surrounding landscape included areas of Woodland: 'ye abote wode', 'Abott Ymmslow', and 'burne abotote wode'. There were also large areas of heather lyngges, or wastes known as 'the Forest'. The valley of the Rainworth Water to the south of the Abbey was managed as Meadows to provide winter fodder for large numbers of sheep. The Cistercians were prolific sheep farmers.

The Abbey organised much of these land-holdings into 'Granges'- most of them within a days walk of the Abbey- the best know being Inkersall Grange which sat on Rainworth Water on the southern-most extent of the home estates.

As well as the demense farming which provided income for the Abbey, the Monks also possessed large parts of the town of Rotherham in Yorkshire which provided a vast amount of taxable income for the Abbey.

The Abbey was a popular over night resting place on the great road through the Forest and would have provided welcome accommodation as night fell over the desolate heaths and remote woodland of the High Forest.

Accommodation was provided for free by the monks- so it was essential that the monastery could provide for itself and visitors. The large amounts of farmland kept by the Abbey was therefore of great importance to ensure they could provide for all these travelers.

These could include Royalty, and in 1290 Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of King Edward I stayed here while Edward held Parliament at his nearby Royal Palace and Hunting lodge at Clipstone. In fact the Abbey was among her final resting places as she was ill during her stay there, and died during an attempt to move to Lincoln for Spiritual and Medical help.

Rufford was a part of the fabric of life in Sherwood Forest for 400 hundred years.

It would sadly come to an end in the 1530 under King Henry VIII along with all other monasteries in the Kingdom.

At the Dissolution of the Monastery the Abbot was accused of being incontinent with two married women and 4 single women- six of the monks were said to be desirous of exemption from their duties- and the monastery was dissolved in 1536 (it is quite likely that these charges were trumped up as they were very convenient for the crown- however Priests were often badly behaved at times in Medieval Sherwood Forest).

Despite this inglorious ending, Rufford Abbey passed into the hands of rich landowners and eventually emerged to become a Country Park in the present Day with parts of the Medieval Abbey surviving within the later house. These  include the Lay Brothers Frater and the Undercroft which can still be visited to this day.













Picture: Rufford Abbey today






Mercian Archaeological Services CIC

Specialists in Community Archaeology, Public Involvement, Research & Training


Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Excavation, Research, Volunteering, Community Archaeology Derbyshire, Training, Social, Learning, Community Archaeology Leicestershire, Heritage, Involvement, Belonging, Knowledge sharing, Community Archaeology Lincolnshire, Topographic Survey, Talks and Presentations, Outreach, Archaeology Projects , Open Days, Schools, Finds Processing, Day Schools, Field Schools, Young People, Archaeology and History of Sherwood Forest, Pottery Research, Medieval, Roman, Prehistoric, Community Interest Company, Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire.



Community Archaeology in Nottinghamshire

Community Archaeology in Derbyshire

Community Archaeology in Leicestershire

Community Archaeology East Midlands

Community Archaeology in Lincolnshire


© Mercian Archaeological Services CIC 2013. Registered Business No. 08347842. All Rights Reserved.

The Future of Sherwood’s Past

 


Project page links:

-------------------------------

 Project Home page

-------------------------------

About the Project

-------------------------------

Awards

--------------------------------

 Media

--------------------------------

Research Aims

--------------------------------

 Working with Specialists

-------------------------------

Social Media - Follow us

--------------------------------

The Sherwood Forest
National Nature Reserve Archaeology Survey

-------------------------------

Long term Research at 
King John’s Palace:
Ancient Royal Heart of Sherwood Forest

-------------------------------

The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Training Fieldschool

--------------------------------

“Scirwuda- Mapping the Greenwood”: Place-names,
Ghost and Shadow woods of Sherwood Forest Project

-------------------------------

Investigating Thynghowe Viking
Meeting Site

-------------------------------

Searching for the 
The Battle of Hatfield

-------------------------------

Edwinstowe Church Survey

-------------------------------

 Fieldswork at St Edwin’s Chapel

-------------------------------

St Mary’s Norton- Cuckney Church Survey

-------------------------------

 Mapping Medieval Sherwood Forest

-------------------------------

The Sherwood Forest LiDAR
Project

-------------------------------

The Sherwood Villages Project:
Settlement Development in the Forest

-------------------------------

Sherwood Heath Survey

--------------------------------

 Clipstone Village Dig

-------------------------------

Researching Edward IIs fortification at Clipstone Peel

-------------------------------

Ransom Wood Survey

-------------------------------

Thoresby Estate Survey

-------------------------------

 Robin Hood’s Village Dig

-------------------------------

The Cistercians of Rufford Project:
Settlement Development, Dynamics and Desertion.

--------------------------------

Sherwood Forest Environmental Survey

--------------------------------

World War II in Sherwood Forest - Mapping the camps, munitions and more

-------------------------------

World War I in Sherwood Forest - Mapping the camps, munitions and more

--------------------------------

About Medieval Sherwood Forest

-------------------------------

Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest

--------------------------------

 Outlaws & Villains

-------------------------------

 Historical Research

-------------------------------

 Stories from the Forest

-------------------------------

Book Reviews

-------------------------------

 Bibliography

-------------------------------

 Funding the Project

-------------------------------

 Project Partners

-------------------------------

 Project Sponsors

-------------------------------

 Robin Hood Challenges

--------------------------------

Outreach Bus Tours

-------------------------------

 Links page

-------------------------------