Archaeology & History

Archaeology & History - Experience 3,000 Years of History

Burnt mounds provide evidence of people's presence in Moseley Bog dating back to the Bronze Age. This was when the prehistoric ‘wild wood’ was first impacted upon by man.

The key archaeological feature of the site are the two Bronze age burnt mounds which were designated as scheduled ancient monument in 2002. Please see the Hot spots for further information.

By the time of Domesday in 1086 much of the woodland had been cleared and replaced with arable fields, meadows and pastures. The Mill was the secondary pool to Sarehole Mill.

The Cold Bath Brook which runs through the nature reserve still continues to feed Sarehole Mill.

In the 16th century a large mill pool was constructed in Moseley Bog. This was allowed to drain in the 19th century and the woodland began to return.

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The expansion of suburban Birmingham at the beginning of the 20th century saw the area around Moseley Bog begin to lose its rural character. By the 1950s all that was left of the area’s agricultural past were archaeological remains.

In the 1960s the upper area of the reserve, now known as Joy’s Wood, was landfilled and converted into playing fields. The steep bank which separates Joy’s Wood from Moseley Bog represents the edge of the landfilled area. You can clearly see pieces of brick and concrete, remnants of demolished Birmingham slum areas.

In the 1980s the playing fields were planted with blocks of woodland and the whole area was declared a Local Nature Reserve. 

    The hollows here are historic 'clay pits'. Nutrient-rich soil known as ‘Marl’ was extracted from here and spread on the adjacent fields as fertiliser.
    The steep bank which separates Joy's Wood from Moseley Bog represents the edge of the landfilled area. You can clearly see pieces of brick and concrete. These are the remains of buildings brought here from elsewhere in Birmingham.
    Straddling the Coldbath Brook are two 'burnt mounds'. These Scheduled Ancient Monuments date from around 3,000 years ago and are made up of large piles of cracked stones and charcoal. It is thought that these stones were heated on a fire and had water poured on them to create steam for sauna-type bathing. This would have been done in a structure made from wooden poles covered with animal skins known as a 'bender'. Similar structures are known to have been used all over the world as a means of cleansing, as spiritual centres, as places to hold meetings and for healing.
    In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries large suburban houses with long gardens were built along Wake Green Road. These only stood for a few decades and later in the 20th Century were replaced by St. Bernard's school and new housing. The lower-lying ends of the long gardens were, however, left undeveloped, and these now form part of the woodland of Moseley Bog. There are clear remnants of the gardens including walls, the foundations of a glass house, hedgerows with boundary trees and a number of garden plants of species that were popular at the time.
  5. POND
    The pond started life as part of a quarry for the dam of the ‘Great Pool’ and later became an ornamental pond in the garden of a now demolished house called Mel Valley.
    A short walk east from Moseley Bog stands Sarehole Mill, first documented in 1542 as belonging to the priory at Maxstoke, nine miles away in modern-day north Warwickshire. To ensure a reliable supply of water for the mill a holding pool was created at the site of Moseley Bog by damming the Coldbath Brook. With the advent of steam-driven pumps in the middle of the 19th century it was no longer necessary to keep a holding pool, and when the dam was in need of repair the decision was made to break the sluice and allow the pool to drain. Due to the difficult wet conditions the site wasn’t reused and was left to ‘tumble-down’ to woodland. The dam remains intact today and forms an impressive and clearly visible archaeological feature.