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Essay: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Surrounding Area Report

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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
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William Mitchell of The Centre of Archaeology commissioned research into the geology and archaeology of the area surrounding Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery, Warwickshire, England in July 2017. This was in accordance with a request from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to access the surrounding area for possible complications when building a new visitors centre for the historic site.

The process undertaken involved researching the geology of the surrounding area and researching archives for any previous archaeological work undertaken in the surrounding area of Shottery, Warwickshire.

The results of which shower that there was significant archaeological activity to the south and south-west of the cottage.


• William Mitchell of The Centre of Archaeology based at Staffordshire University commissioned research into the area surrounding Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Warwickshire.

• This report outlines the results and key findings from the undertaken research to help further progress his current project with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.


• The primary aim of my research was to locate any key geological aspects of the surrounding area of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and whether any previous archaeological work has been undertaken and their subsequent sites.


• Anne Hathaway’s Cottage:

• This 600-year-old cottage housed many generations of the Hathaway family (visit Stratford-upon-Avon).

• Originally a farmhouse built in 1463 comprised of only three rooms (The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).

• Anne’s grandfather John Hathaway was a tenant at the farmhouse as a sheep farmer (The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).

• Anne was born in the cottage in 1556 (The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).

• As a farm the site was known as ‘Hewlands’, where the Hathaway’s became successful sheep farmers. What is now a garden would have originally been a farmyard for livestock and a possible herb garden (The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).

• In 1581, Anne’s father passed away and ownership of the cottage passed to her brother Bartholomew. He proceeded to add the first floor of the cottage and chimneys before his death in 1624 (The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).

• By the 1800s the land and houses were sold after being mortgaged for many years due to the family’s waning fortunes. The Hathaway family remained in the cottage as tenants after it was sold in 1838 (britainexpress.com).

• One of the last Hathaway’s to live in the cottage was Mary Baker. She and her family were paid a wage of £75 by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust after they purchased the cottage in 1892. The family’s duty was to share stories of the family and care for the cottage (The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust).

• Shottery, Warwickshire:

• Shottery is part of the Old Stratford parish, Warwickshire and is one mile outside of Stratford-upon-Avon (UK Genealogy Archive).

• It is home to Anne Hathaway’s family cottage, who later married William Shakespeare (UK Genealogy Archive)

• Shottery’s history goes beyond the 16th Century as fossils of echinoderms have been found in the area and are on display at the museum at Nash’s House (visitoruk.com).

• The museum at Nash’s House also contains flint artefacts dated to 8000-3500BC (visitoruk.com).

• Evidence of Roman occupation came when Roman coins were found at Bordon Hill (visitoruk.com).

• According to the Domesday Book, Shottery consisted of 800 acres in 1182 which would likely support 70 people (visitoruk.com).

• By the medieval period there were two great houses in Shottery, the first being the Manor House, which is now the Shottery Girls’ Grammar School. The other a large farmhouse which would later become Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (visitoruk.com).


4.1. Land to the west of Shottery,2014.

• There was an archaeological evaluation report commissioned in 2014 for the land just west of Shottery by CgMs Consulting on behalf of Bloor homes and Hallam Land Management.

• The evaluation showed that in this land there was “a very low density of archaeological features” and that many of the features found could not “be assigned even to a broad archaeological period with any confidence”.

• The report did however state that the southern fields contained significant archaeological finds.

• These included a possible human cremation burial and four worked flints dated to the Late Mesolithic or Early Neolithic period.

• Other features included a N-S Roman ditch, a small charcoal rich filled pit, four shards of pottery dated to the Roman period, a late medieval rubbish pit and several undated hearths.

• Evaluation by Oxford Archaeology.

• The work undertaken in this report is shown in figure 1.

4.2. The Land west of Shottery,2016.

• In 2016, an excavation by Oxford Archaeology took place in Shottery. The project was commissioned by Orion Heritage on behalf of Hallam Land Management and Bloor Homes Ltd at the request of Warwickshire County Council.

• The excavation was commissioned after a sherd of Peterborough Ware pottery from the Middle Neolithic period and an undated cremation burial were discovered in the fields to the west of the village.

• All finds from the excavation were found close the Shottery Brook, a tributary of the river Avon.

• Finds include two probable prehistoric burial monuments, but are likely to be of Neolithic and early Bronze Age. A mysterious small rectangular ditched enclosure. A single pot sherd from the ditch is of uncertain date, but is likely from the Neolithic period.

• In the SW corner on the site there is a plough-truncated round barrow. This is associated with a single central human cremation burial, placed within a bronze age pottery vessel. A second cremation burial was found to the south.

• Full report not available yet.

• Source Oxford Archaeology

• Brief description of finds available at:

4.3. Tyst House, Shottery, Warwickshire, 2000.

• Watching brief carried out during the erection of a two-storey extension.

• The site was close to a possible area of a sunken medieval settlement.

• No archaeological evidence of the medieval settlement was observed during the ground work phase of development.

• Published by Rachel Newman of Warwickshire Museum.

• Document available from: ADS Library

4.4. 27 Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, 2004.

• Failed archaeological watching brief.

• Lack of communication led to trenches being excavated and filled with concrete. Block on brickwork had begun before watching could take place.

• No archaeological finds or features were observed.

• Published by R Jones of Warwickshire Museum.

• Report available from: ADS Library

4.5. Stratford-upon-Avon School for Girls, 2011.

• Shottery Manor, Shottery, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

• Archaeological evaluation by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS).

• Done in advance of a new two-storey extension on the east end of building No. 4.

• One trench in carpark east of building No. 4 showed no evidence of archaeological activity.

• Published by M Morris of ULAS

• Report available at: ADS Library


In Conclusion from the research undertaken it has been found that significant archaeological work has been undertaken into the land west of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. There were many trenches excavated immediately west of the Cottage that showed little to no archaeological evidence. However, the fields to the South and South-west of the Cottage has uncovered significant archaeological activity and a report on this work is still pending.

Other archaeological work was undertaken in Shottery itself in aid of construction work to building extensions including at Manor House and Tyst House. These works are not in the immediate vicinity of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

As for the work in the fields to the west of the Cottage, I would recommend that The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust rule out the southern fields as a possible site due to the extensive archaeological work being undertaken there.

The only planned work for the area is roadworks around the village and to the access roads leading to the village.


ADS Library (2017) Shottery, Warwickshire. [online] Available at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/library/search/searchResults.xhtml

[Accessed: 14/07/2017]

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (2016) Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. [online] Available from: https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/anne-hathaways-cottage/ [Accessed:13/07/2017]

David Ross (N.D.) Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. [online] Available at: http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/warwickshire/az/Stratford/Anne-Hathaway.htm [Accessed:13/07/2017]

Visitoruk.com (N.D.) Shottery. [online] Available at:http://www.visitoruk.com/stratford-upon-avon/shottery-C592-V19163.html [Accessed:13/07/2017]

Visit Stratford-upon-Avon (2017) Anne Hathaways Cottage. [online] Available at:http://www.visitstratforduponavon.co.uk/attractions/anne-hathaways-cottage [Accessed:13/07/2017]

Oxford Archaeology (2014) Land West of Shottery Stratford-Upon-Avon Warwickshire. [online] Available at:https://library.thehumanjourney.net/2697/1/STWS13_report.pdf [Accessed:14/07/2017]

Oxford Archaeology (2016) Land West of Shottery Stratford-Upon-Avon. [online] Available at: http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/bajrpress/prehistoric-burials-and-anglo-saxon-settlement-discovered-at-shottery-warwickshire/ [Accessed:14/07/2017]

N.B. Not actual report as it is yet to be published.

UK Genealogy Archives (N.D.) Shottery, Warwickshire. [online] available at:http://ukga.org/england/Warwickshire/towns/Shottery.html [Accessed:13/07/2017]

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