Haughmond Abbey was a prosperous house of Augustinian Canons north-east of Shrewsbury. Today it is an extensive ruin in the guardianship of English Heritage.
The work reported on had its origins in excavations carried out in and near the cloister in 1975-79, but the scope has been broadened to place the site in its historical, theological, architectural and landscape context. The finds from the excavations and previous clearance work, including significant groups of Romanesque sculpture, funerary monuments, pottery and floor tiles, are the subject of a full range of specialist reports. There is a comprehensive analysis of the surviving claustral buildings, while a survey of the earthworks surrounding the site has revealed the precinct boundary, water management systems and a series of formal gardens.
Different strands of evidence are pulled together to present the development of the site from its origins as a late 11th-century eremetic community, through regularisation under a distinctive version of the Augustinian Rule in the early/mid 12th century, the lavish rebuilding of the church and cloister in the late 12th century, extensions and additions in the 13th and 14th centuries, the use of the cloister for the burial of lay benefactors, remodelling c.1500, subsequent conversion to a country house, decline in status to a farm and the incorporation of the ruins into a late 18th-century landscape park. Among the conclusions is the suggestion that Haughmond makes a plausible context for the composition in the 13th century of Ancrene Wisse and the Katherine Group of writings.
The authors and English Heritage are to be congratulated for publishing such a valuable monograph on one of its own properties in these difficult times ... Like all archaeology, this is still work in progress. But this is how monastic sites should be published.
Glynn Coppack, Medieval Archaeology
Archaeological and Historical Research, Goxhill