Neolithic Age – 4000 BC
Evidence of the earliest settlers in the parish is found at Crickley Hill Country Park were one of Britain’s most significant prehistoric sites is located. Here excavations by the Archeological Trust discovered evidence of a Neolithic farming community covering approximately 4½ acres.
Iron Age – 600 BC
At the same location as the Neolithic site there is also evidence of an Iron Age Fort dating to around 600 BC. It was approximately 9 acres in size and enclosed by a ditch and rampart. It is thought that only 2 generations at most occupied this site until it was abandoned again.
The site was later rebuilt by new inhabitants who brought different building techniques and pottery similar to those found in the mid and upper Thames basin. Their stay was also short and the site was again abandoned by 500 BC.
Saxon Age 700 AD
Evidence of a 7th Century settlement was found at ‘Pinda’s Well’ or as we now call it ‘Pinswell’ in the east of the parish near to Upper Coberley. It is thought that early settlements grew up around a spring or well where shepherds could easily access water for their flocks and in 690 AD, monks from Withington parish set up a mission station here.
When the waters at Pinda’s Well became scarce, it is thought that the community left their hillside homes and moved their flocks down the valley towards the River Churn to create ‘Cuthbert’s Ley’ or ‘Coberley’ as it is now known.
Norman Age & the Domesday Book
On Christmas Day 1085, William of Normandy met with his parliament at Gloucester and made the decision to draw up the Domesday survey. It was a vast undertaking, with every manor in the country given accurate descriptions. Here is what it said about Coberley:
‘The land of Roger Berkeley. In Rapsgate hundred Roger Berkeley holds Coberley. There are 10 hides. Dena a thane held it in reign of King Edward (the Confessor). In demesne are two carucates and 19 villans, and 4 bordarii with 5 carucates. There are 4 serfs and 5 acres of pasture; a wood three quarters of a mile long and half a mile broad. It was worth £7 – now £8.’
Domesday Book Extract
one who held a cottage at the will of his lord
as much arable land as could be managed with one plough and the beasts belonging to it in one year
about 120 acres
a division of a county, originally supposed to have contained a hundred families or freemen
a forced labourer
a rank between ordinary freeman and hereditary noble
See http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol7/pp174-183 for further information on Coberley’s history