Small Heath, which has been settled and used since Roman times, sits on top of a small hill. The slightly elevated site offers poor agricultural land, lying on a glacial drift of sand, gravel, and clay, resulting in a heathland that provides adequate grazing for livestock.
The land therefore seems to have developed as a pasture or common land, on which locals could graze their animals. However, the site lies directly on the route between Birmingham and Coventry, and so was probably used by drovers transporting animals to and from the two cities, and the livestock markets within each.
The Coventry Road itself was first recorded in 1226, leading from the Digbeth crossing of the River Rea. At this time Birmingham was a medieval market town whilst Coventry was a major city of national importance. In 1745, the Coventry Turnpike was created with tollgates at Watery Lane Middleway, Green Lane, and the River Cole. At Holder Road a milestone showed 105 miles (169 km) to