Deserted medieval village of Beesby


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Three separate areas of scheduled earthworks: Area one extends between Beesby House and Beesby Top to the south west. Area two lies immediately to the north east of Beesby House, extending on the north side as far as the top of a steep slope. Area three is the field on the south side of the road, immediately east of Beesby Cottages.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Three separate areas of scheduled earthworks: Area one extends between Beesby House and Beesby Top to the south west. Area two lies immediately to the north east of Beesby House, extending on the north side as far as the top of a steep slope. Area three is the field on the south side of the road, immediately east of Beesby Cottages.
North East Lincolnshire (Unitary Authority)
Hawerby cum Beesby
National Grid Reference:


Earthwork and buried remains of a medieval settlement with parts of its associated field system. The monument is defined by three separate areas of protection in close proximity to each other.

Reasons for Designation

The deserted medieval village of Beesby is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: For the good survival of a wide range of earthwork features including those related to a church, peasant houses, trackways and enclosures of various types along with good surviving ridge and furrow showing areas of medieval arable cultivation; * Integrity: The well preserved nature of the earthworks allows the overall layout of the village, enclosures and associated field system to be appreciated; * Archaeological Potential: Beesby has a high potential for retaining archaeological information about medieval rural society in northern Lincolnshire.


Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great diversity in form, size and type. They typically comprise a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the C14 and C15. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death.

Beesby, the name thought to be Old Danish in origin (settlement/homestead belonging to Besi) was recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1087 with one freeman, eight villagers, 16 acres of meadow, 6 acres of underwood and enough arable land to employ four plough teams. It was all valued at 30s and was in the hands of Count Alan the Red. Before the Norman Conquest it had been divided between Ingimundr, Authunn, Eadric and Ecgwulf, in total valued at 20s. The Lay Subsidy return for Beesby was valued at £1 6s 4d in 1334, just over half of the average value of parishes in the wapentake indicating that it was one of the poorest parishes within the area. Beesby's church (dedicated to St John the Baptist) was recorded as early as 1202, but in May 1450 the parish of Beesby was absorbed into neighbouring Hawerby with St John's becoming a chapel. The reason given at the time was that plague had seriously reduced the numbers of parishioners and that large areas of land were left uncultivated. Contemporary tax records show that the settlement received over 50% tax relief following the Black Death of 1348-9 and that the parish still had less than 10 households in 1428. By 1563 Beesby is recorded as having just five households, with seven households in Hawerby. It is not known when the medieval open fields were enclosed, (there is no known surviving enclosure map for either Beesby or Hawerby) but this may have prompted the construction of Beesby House, probably in the early C18. By 1705 there were only 10 families living within Hawerby-cum-Beesby parish.

Beesby has had limited archaeological investigation. Two small areas of earthworks (outside the area of the scheduled monument) were levelled in 1965 resulting in the discovery of chalk foundations for a building and finds of pottery dating from late Saxon to C18 in date in addition to some earlier, Roman finds. In 1971 a field on the east side of the road (also outside of the scheduled monument) was ploughed with archaeologists noting three house sites marked by spreads of squared chalk blocks, flints and cobbles as well as a number of large stones interpreted as pad stones for timber buildings. Pottery finds ranged in date from medieval to C18.


The medieval village of Beesby appears to have been relatively small, based on a main street running south west to north east with a back lane to the south east and a possible second back lane in the bottom of a dry valley to the north west, this now followed by the edge of Beesby Wood. A modern bridle way follows this dry valley implying that it is an old established route way. Some additional tracks can also be identified, providing access to the fields beyond. For much of its course, the modern road cuts through medieval ridge and furrow and thus can be seen to be later in date. Beesby House appears to occupy one of the medieval building plots on the northern side of the main street. To the north east are the earthworks of the chapel of St John the Baptist, whilst most of the rest of the village earthworks lie to the south of Beesby House. At the south western end of the village, to the north of Beesby Cottages, there are the earthworks of a set of small enclosures. To the west of these enclosures, extending towards Beesby Top, there are the well preserved earthworks of part of the medieval openfield system surviving as ridge and furrow. To the south of the modern road, there is another modern field retaining earthworks of further well preserved ridge and furrow, as well as some village earthworks which lie towards the northern corner of the modern field. The next field to the north east (outside of the scheduled monument) is the field that was first ploughed in 1971.

The earthworks of a small building about 20m by 8m, orientated WSW to ENE and standing up to 1.3m high, lie 100m north east of Beesby House. This is identified as the remains of the church (St John the Baptist) and is set within an embanked enclosure forming a churchyard some 50m by 50m.This is approached from the south by a raised trackway which starts at the head of a clear hollow way down to the bottom of the steep sided dry valley to the north west. Between the churchyard and the modern road to the south east there are the clear footings of a two celled building, interpreted as the remains of a house or pair of cottages. The course of the modern road north from here is considered to follow the medieval route of the village's main street. At least two further building platforms lie adjacent to this road, north east of the chapel. One of these is shown as a building on the 1838 Tithe map, but had been demolished by the time of the 1887 Ordnance Survey map.

The course of the modern road diverges from that of the medieval main street around the modern driveway to Beesby House. The main street can be traced as a hollow way which runs south westwards, gently curving to the WNW to run down into the dry valley that follows the north western side of the village. To the north of this street, south west of Beesby House, there are the clear earthworks of at least three buildings, all of which were at least partly built of stone. There is also a mound 11m in diameter and up to 0.8m high which is interpreted as a medieval windmill mound. Just to the north of the modern road, approximately following its line, there is another hollow way which forms a back lane and is further defined by flanking banks. Extending between this back lane and the main street, there are at least five tofts defined by banks or ditches. Each toft is a small enclosure representing a medieval peasant's property, each with at least one levelled area marking the site of a house. Additional buried remains of yard surfaces, out-buildings and other features will survive archaeologically. Following their abandonment, these tofts were cut through by another hollow way that cuts off a corner formed by the back lane. To the west of the last toft, west of a hollowed trackway joining the main street to the back lane, there are a series of slightly larger enclosures which extend to about 100m west of Beesby Cottages. These are identified as crofts and paddocks, garden and livestock enclosures on the edge of the village. A further set of crofts are thought to have been located in the field levelled in 1971 to the east of Beesby House. The part of the site that lies on the south east side of the road, to the south of this field, includes the earthworks of some additional crofts. There is also a pair of hollow ways that run south eastwards up the side of the hill, originally linked to the back lane. Between them are the sites of at least two more small buildings, probably additional peasant houses. These hollow-ways provide access to a former medieval open field which is divided into a number of furlongs, blocks of parallel ridge and furrow defined by narrow banks, broad baulks and trackways. Most of these furlongs are complete with characteristic raised headlands at either end which were formed by turning the plough team around the ends of the ridges. Probably because of the lay of the land, the furlongs were laid out in relatively short lengths, typically around 200m long, and the individual ridges are also quite narrow, 8-9m between furrows. A further run of well preserved ridge and furrow, divided into furlongs by broad baulks, extends westwards from the crofts at the south west end of the village towards Beesby Top.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: The scheduled monument is defined by three separate areas of protection divided by the modern road and also Beesby House (with its surrounding gardens, outbuildings and driveway to the road). Boundaries follow modern field boundaries (which are generally hedge lines) except for two sections: the northern-most boundary of the northern scheduled area which cuts across the field, aligned on a section of a marked break of slope; and the southern-most boundary of the southern constraint area which follows the parish boundary (which is the historical boundary between the Wapentakes of Haverstoe and Ludborough, being the modern boundary between North East Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire) rather than the slightly divergent field boundary. Beesby House (with its surrounding gardens and outbuildings) appears to occupy one of the medieval tofts, however this area is not included in the scheduled area as although it will probably retain related archaeological deposits, these are likely to be more disturbed than those within the adjacent pastures.

The field to the east of the road, east of Beesby House, (the field first ploughed in 1971) is also not included within the scheduled area as although this included part of the medieval settlement and will retain associated archaeological remains, these remains will have been heavily disturbed by ploughing.

EXCLUSIONS: all modern fences, styles and gates; water and feed troughs and the platforms that they stand on; telegraph poles, sign posts and all road and path surfaces are excluded from the scheduling; although the ground beneath all these features is included.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
NE 215
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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