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Carved stones found at Hogshaw: on the left is horizontal slice across a complex moulded pillar; centre is a ‘dog-tooth’ moulding which dates it to the late 12th or early 13th century; that on the right shows a moulded pillar.

Hogshaw deserted medieval village

THE VILLAGE of Hogshaw appears in Domesday Book in 1086, when it had a population of about 30 people. Today its site is mainly grassland occupied by sheep – but with two fishponds, an empty moat and banks to show that it was not always just fields.

A project team from the BAS Active Archaeology Group has started work to find out just what remains under the grass. First step was to look at historical records. Second was to begin a measured survey of the remaining banks and ditches. The third step, proposed for 2015, would be a geophysical survey which might identify buried foundations.

THE DOCUMENTARY RECORD

Hogshaw wasn't just a village. In 1180 the manor of Hogshaw was given to the Knights Hospitallers, a minor monastic order whose aim was to provide hostels (‘hospitality’) for pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Documents show that Hogshaw was one of the ‘preceptories’. We hope to find out whether this was a hostel for travellers, or just an agricultural village whose rents were sent out to support the Knights Hospitallers’ work in Jerusalem.

But we do knows that there was a church. It is not there today, but the stones found on the site indicate that the church was built soon after 1180, when the Knights Hospitallers arrived. Demolished in 1730, its exact position is now not known.

We also know that the villagers were evicted from their homes in the late 1400s – to make way for sheep. Their houses were pulled down to prevent them returning there. The building a new farm track in 2003 revealed rough stone foundations, probably for timber-framed cottages.

(This also happened at the manor next-door – see Doddershall deserted village.)

WHAT NEXT?

Hogshaw is a historic site scheduled and protected by English Heritage. What can be done there is limited. But it has a fascinating history – so follow Hogshaw's story here.