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Upper Dean Before 1086

Countryside at Dean May 2011
Countryside at Dean May 2001

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. Upper Dean has a number of features, visible today only as crop marks, which may date from prehistoric times.

To the south of the village is a group of roughly rectangular enclosures running north-east to south-west along a ridge. They interconnect with some linear features which may be trackways. They are thought to be generally prehistoric though the Historic Environment Record [HER 2429] notes: “though it is possible that one is the remains of a relatively modern horse enclosure”. One series of crop marks has been tentatively dated, though without the evidence of artefacts. This is a series of roughly rectangular enclosures extending for about 700 metres along a south-west to north-east running ridge from this first set. It is thought that this may represent a late Iron Age or Romano-British farmstead [HER 984].

More crop marks lie south west of the village [HER 16623] and south-east [HER 15024]. Again these are roughly rectangular and may date from prehistory. The problem with most of the crop marks in Upper Dean is that they are just that, marks visible in crops and no field walking or excavation has been carried out in their vicinity, so there are no artefacts to give a date to any of the features.

Another crop mark has been identified north-west of the village of Swineshead but inside the boundary of the civil parish of Dean and Shelton [HER 16625]. It is a roughly rectangular enclosure measuring approximately 80 metres by 40 metres linked to a small 20 metre square enclosure about 100 metres to the north. A scatter of roughly rectangular enclosures and other features interlinking with them has been identified west of Swineshead Wood [HER 15021]. A scatter of roughly rectangular and roughly circular features has been identified on top of a ridge north of Dean Lodge [HER 15022].