La Grava The Archaeology and History of a Royal Manor and Alien Priory of Fontevrault

IA cover The site of La Grava (or Grove Priory) in Bedfordshire, excavated in advance of quarrying between 1973 and 1985, was one of the most extensive monastic/manorial projects of the 20th century in the UK. Excavated originally as a medieval religious house, identified as an alien priory of the Order of Fontevrault in Anjou, the site was to reveal settlement from the Romano-British period to the 16th century. Granted to the Order of Fontevrault in 1164, the priory became the home of the Procurator of the Order in England. From the later 14th century the site reverted to a lay establishment and was held by high-ranking royal women.

The excavations were notable for several reasons, including their extent, the stratification in the remains, and the continuity of settlement from the late Saxon period onwards. Post-excavation analysis and reconstruction of building plans has led the author to suggest detailed sequences of spatial planning across the site. The royal and ecclesiastic connections to the site provided excellent documentary sources, enabling recorded events to be linked to building works. When combined with the large finds assemblage, and detailed reconstruction drawings, a vivid picture of life at La Grava over several centuries can be painted. As the publication of one of the largest medieval excavation projects of the 20th century, this book will appeal to a wide readership. It will be essential reading for anyone researching medieval settlement, be they archaeologists or historians, providing an almost unparalleled example of a high-status manorial/monastic site. It will be of particular interest to those living or working in Bedfordshire, or with an interest in the East Midlands, and to the many hundreds who worked on the site.


  1. Detailed report on a major manorial/monastic site
  2. Supported by comprehensive online supplement
  3. Extensively illustrated
  4. Full review of associated documentary sources


As Manager of the Bedfordshire County Archaeology Service, Evelyn Baker directed the excavations at La Grava and several other sites in the county. Evelyn is the former editor for the Society for Church Archaeology, Archaeological Consultant for St Albans Diocesan Council, and co-director of the Historic Environment Conservation consultancy.

Info: 244pp, 93 figs including colour
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Evelyn Baker

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