Information for record number MWA8766:
Birchley and New Close Woods and the Grove

Summary Birchley Wood, New Close Wood and The Grove are managed woodlands. The Woodland comprises: Woodbanks, some dated; a possible early brickworks; and evidence of ancient coppicing. The Woodland management may date back to the Medieval period or earlier.
What Is It?  
Type: Managed Woodland, Brickworks, Wood Bank
Period: Medieval - Modern (1066 AD - 2050 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Binley Woods
District: Rugby, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 40 77
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Sites & Monuments Record

Source Number  

1 A complex of ancient coppice woods of 95 ha. These woods appear to be recorded from at least the 12th century. They all seem to have been subject to common grazing rights; disputes generated unusually informative documentation. The woods were progressively enclosed for coppicing from the 14th century, as common grazing rights were restricted or abolished. By the 18th century, Birchley and New Close woods were conventional coppice woods, although the Grove may have produced timber only. (In the 11 years 1769-1779 the Grove produced 24% of all timber from the Craven Estates in the area.) By the time of the decline in traditional coppice management in the mid-to-late 19th century, all the woods were probably coppice woods. New Close wood is almost entirely surrounded by a large, often sinuous, woodbank, around 8m in overall width. The Medieval documentation suggests that this was probably constructed in 1355/6, although it almost certainly replaced an earlier woodbank. Much of the periphery of Birchley wood has a slightly smaller and flatter woodbank, although in part the boundary earthwork, if any, has been buried by modern ditching spoil. The documentation appears to show that this was constructed in 1500/1, specifically in order to make a coppice of the wood. The relationship of its earthworks to those of Birchley suggests that much of the outer woodbank of the Grove may also be of this date, although it has an inner, probably earlier, enclosure, roughly oval but damaged by later ditching. Much of the area of the Grove has a complex of pits and ditches which may be an early but undated brickworks. It is highly unusual to be able to date woodbanks and the evidence from these woods will allow tentative dating of the woodbanks of other woods in the area. More work is needed to establish a typography of woodbanks in Warwickshire. The tree communities are more varied than those of many ancient woods in the area, partly because of the wide variation in soil types, from sand to clay. The dominant woodland type is hazel-pedunculate oak Corylus avellana-Quercus robur but there is an unusual type of alderwood Alnus glutinosa in the southern edge of New Close wood and extensive ash-maple Fraxinus excelsior-Acer campestre wood in the Grove, with large maple stools associated with clay soils and the probable brickworkings. The highly significant ancient woodland species small-leaved lime Tilia cordata occurs in both New Close wood and Birchley wood. The largest stand of lime, in Birchley, of around 3 ha, is unusually abrupt and angular in shape, with notable re-entrants, compared with the shape of lime stands elsewhere (e.g. Piles coppice (qv)). Given the known history of these woods and lime's susceptibility to grazing, this may represent the shrinking remnant of limewood being progressively eaten away by stock but then left as a fossilised shape after effective enclosure had removed or limited the impact of grazing animals, protecting the lime from further destruction. The woods have a rich ground flora, with many plants of ancient woodland, partly as a result of the varied soils; those on clay are especially rich.

Source No: 1
Source Type: Unpublished document
Title: The Historical Ecology of the Woods of Binley, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Dr David Morfitt
Date: 2000
Page Number:
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Word or Phrase
technique Earthwork Earthworks can take the form of banks, ditches and mounds. They are usually created for a specific purpose. A bank, for example, might be the remains of a boundary between two or more fields. Some earthworks may be all that remains of a collapsed building, for example, the grassed-over remains of building foundations.

In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky than during the other seasons, earthworks have larger shadows. From the air, archaeologists are able to see the patterns of the earthworks more easily. Earthworks can sometimes be confusing when viewed at ground level, but from above, the general plan is much clearer.

Archaeologists often carry out an aerial survey or an earthwork survey to help them understand the lumps and bumps they can see on the ground.
period Modern The Modern Period, about 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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period modern About 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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monument BRICKWORKS * An industrial manufacturing complex producing bricks. back
monument PILE * Component: Use wider site type where known. back
monument BOUNDARY * The limit to an area as defined on a map or by a marker of some form, eg. BOUNDARY WALL. Use specific type where known. back
monument PIT * A hole or cavity in the ground, either natural or the result of excavation. Use more specific type where known. back
monument ENCLOSURE * An area of land enclosed by a boundary ditch, bank, wall, palisade or other similar barrier. Use specific type where known. back
monument WOOD * A tract of land with trees, sometimes acting as a boundary or barrier, usually smaller and less wild than a forest. back
monument DITCH * A long and narrow hollow or trench dug in the ground, often used to carry water though it may be dry for much of the year. back
monument COPPICE * A managed small wood or thicket of underwood grown to be periodically cut to encourage new growth providing smaller timber. back
monument MANAGED WOODLAND * An area of cultivated, managed woodland producing wood which is used for a variety of purposes. back
monument WOOD BANK * An earthen bank indicating the limit of a wood or coppice back
monument EARTHWORK * A bank or mound of earth used as a rampart or fortification. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record