Ruxox Farm

Moated site at Ruxox Farm is scheduled to become Monument No. 20405

The Origins of Ruxox Farm

The name comes from "Hroc's Oak" - hroc being Saxon for farmer. Flints have been found at the site that date from the Neolithic period and earlier, and Belgic (bronze age) burial urns have also been found there. The earthworks at the present day farm may date from the Iron Age.

It is on the site of a 12th century monastic cell - (home for resigned/retired monks from Dunstable Priory), and a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, which prospered for two hundred years.  It is set within a large circular dry moat, half of which still exists, which may well be of iron-age origin.  Roman tiles have been found at the farm, suggesting the existence of a Roman Villa nearby.  Aerial photographs show that a large area to the north-east and west has seen substantial Roman development, possibly industrial, and there have been a number of significant artefacts found, which are now in Bedford Museum. Artefacts including Slag from iron smelting has been found in the Ruxox area, as well as a Roman sickle.

Also uncovered was a Medieval Monastic Token (c. 1150 - 1540 AD, drawing by David Eaton) which was found sealed into a window in a house in Brook Lane, Flitton. It is believed to have been made in France and would have been used as currency at Ruxox Grange when monks farmed the land around here. It is now owned by Flitwick & District Heritage Group.

Ruxox & Flit: 1,000 year old names

We have no artefacts from the Saxon era, but the name Ruxox is Saxon.

It may come from Hroc’s Oak – named for Hroc, a Saxon who farmed here a thousand years ago.

Recently it has been suggested that it is from the Saxon for rook – so roc’s oak.

The river Flit is also a Saxon name – from the Saxon Fleot meaning fast flowing stream – as in Fleet Street. So Flitton is also a Saxon community.

Ruxox Farm Buildings

In medieval times the farm was a moated Grange – the monks providing food for the monastery in Dunstable and locally.  The present farmhouse is a typical ‘Model Farm’ constructed in the 1850’s by the Duke of Bedford’s estate.  The farmhouse is actually two dwellings, one inhabited by the local farmer.  Note the very large sliding doors on the barns to the north eastern side of the farm.

Ruxox 2

Moated site at Ruxox Farm

In October 2002 David Sedgley of the Flitwick & District Heritage Group (FDHG) contacted the Greensand Trust (GST) about the moat at Ruxox.  It had become overgrown with scrub and young oak trees and had had large amounts of rubbish dumped in it including plastics, vehicle wheels, pallets, scrap metal and irrigation pipes.

After discussions with Matthew O’Brien of County Farms, Patricia Roberts, Field Monument Warden for English Heritage, Martin Oake of Beds County Council and Alan McNicol, the tenant, a plan to restore the moat was formulated.  Ten volunteer work parties were held later that winter to clear scrub from the north-east and eastern sections of the moat, and to remove that rubbish which was possible to clear by hand.

The GST wrote a management plan for the moat in May 2003, and County Farms applied to English Heritage for s17 funding for the work, based on the plan, later that year.

Ongoing Maintenance

In the winter of 2003/04 a further volunteer working parties cleared the south-east section of scrub and rubbish. Larger rubbish was removed by a contractor with a digger following consultation with English Heritage.  Short lengths of fencing were erected in two areas to protect the monument from future dumping. The FDHG then installed an interpretation board about the moat just outside the scheduled area as part of their Two Moors Heritage Trail.

In the years since the moat has been mown and strimmed and the arisings raked up each year by volunteer work parties. Any re-growing scrub has been cut back. The badger hole which appeared in 2008 has been monitored.  It is most probably an outlier of the main sett on the edge of Flitwick and is used occasionally. No further holes have been dug to date.

The current management strategy is to cut and rake alternate banks annually, so allowing one to remain as longer grass overwinter to benefit wildlife moving through the arable farmland. An annual scrub task is carried out to prevent it from encroaching once again.

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