Remains of the Medieval Settlement of West Wykeham


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Ludford, Lincolnshire.


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

Location Description:
Ludford, Lincolnshire.
East Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Abandoned medieval village.

Reasons for Designation

The remains of the medieval settlement of West Wykeham is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: for the exceptional earthworks and parchmarks depicting the form and plan of the settlement and its associated agricultural practices. West Wykeham is regarded as one of the two best examples of extinct villages in Lincolnshire; * Diversity: for the range and complexity of well preserved features, such as the hollow ways, crofts and tofts with building platforms, and ridge and furrow, which indicate a plan of the settlement and retain significant stratified deposits providing details of the continuity and change in the evolution of the settlement; * Potential: for the stratified archaeological deposits which retain considerable potential to increase our understanding of the physical characteristics of the buildings and settlement. Buried artefacts will also have the potential to increase our knowledge and understanding of the social and economic functioning of the settlement within the wider medieval landscape; * Documentation: for the historical documentation pertaining to the settlement’s evolution; * Group value: for its strong group value with the nearby East Wykeham to which it is linked by a road surviving as a cropmark, and also with the abandoned medieval villages of Kelstern, Calcethorpe and South Cadeby situated two miles away, all of which are scheduled.


The village was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England comprising a small group of houses (known as tofts which may include house platforms surviving as earthworks), gardens (crofts or closes which are typically defined by banks and ditches), yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture. Most villages were established in the C9 and C10, but modified following the Norman invasion to have planned layouts comprising tofts and crofts running back from a main road, often linked with a back lane around the rear of the crofts, and typically having a church and manor house in larger compartments at the end of the village. In the medieval period the Lincolnshire Wolds were characterised as varied mixtures of low fen and march pastures, arable on rising land, with dry ridge-top pastures which supported a dense concentration of villages whose open townfields survived until the later C18 (Roberts and Wrathmell, p. 49, 2003). Although many villages continue to be occupied to the present day, some 2000 nationally were abandoned in the medieval and post-medieval periods and others have shrunken.

Recent attention on the evidence for medieval agricultural practices, typically found in the hinterland of the settlements, has highlighted the survival of the earthwork remains of ‘ridge and furrow’. The origins of ridge and furrow cultivation can be traced to the C10 or before. By the C13, the countryside had acquired a widespread corrugated appearance as settlement developed into a pattern of ‘townships’ (basic units of community life and farming activity). The cultivated ridges, individual strips known as ‘lands’, were incorporated into similarly aligned blocks known as ‘furlongs’, separated from each other by raised ridges known as ‘headlands’ which, in turn, were grouped into two, three or sometimes four large unenclosed ‘Great Fields’. These fields occupied much of the available land in each township but around the fringes lay areas of meadow, pasture (normally unploughable land on steep slopes or near water) and woodland. The characteristic pattern of ridge and furrow was created by ploughing clockwise and anti-clockwise to create lines of flanking furrows interspersed with ridges of ploughed soil. The action of the plough, pulled by oxen, takes the form of a reversed ‘S’-shape when seen in plan. The furrows enabled the land to drain and demarcated individual farmer’s plots of land within the Great Fields. The open-field system ensured that furlongs and strips were fairly distributed through different parts of the township and that one of the Great Fields was left fallow each year.

The name of the village of West Wykeham derives from the Old English Wic-ham (and Old Norse Wic-heim) which seems to have denoted proximity to a Romano-British settlement. Both East and West Wykeham are very close to the known extensive Roman settlement at Ludford. West Wykeham first appears in the historical record in Domesday book where a manor is recorded in the hands of Rainer de Brimou and had a minimum population of eleven people. The church is recorded from about 1150, and in 1195-1200 it is recorded as being dedicated to St Edward and with half the ecclesiastical benefice held by Sixhills priory. The other half of the church was held by Markby Priory and vicars were instituted on the alternate presentation of the two priories until 1382.

The lands in West Wykeham that were held by Ralf de Criol in 1115 passed to his heir, Hugh de Scoteni, in about 1155, and then passed to Hugh's son, Lambert de Scoteni, before 1202. In 1212 the lands were in the possession of Thomas (probably the grandson of Lambert's younger brother, Walter). Thomas de Scoteni granted these lands in West Wykeham to Sixhills Priory in 1228-32. This included all his arable land and meadow in West Wykeham as well as his property ‘in crofts and tofts, in ways and paths, meadows and feedings, waters and mills and in all other easements within the village and without’. Sixhills had already been given half of the village of West Wykeham by Maurice de Craon in the mid-twelfth century and Thomas’s grant was probably for the other half of the village. Other land in West Wykeham was held by Markby Priory and they had a grange at the nearby Great Tows.

In the 1334 lay subsidy returns East and West Wykeham are combined with a joint value of £1 15s. This is below average for the wapentake (an administrative district). Similarly in the poll tax returns of 1377 for Loutheske wapentake, West Wykeham was joined with East Wykeham in the return with a total of 59 taxpayers. It seems likely that the vast majority of these were in East Wykeham, especially as in 1396-97 West Wykeham parish was united with Ludford Magna parish. The Bishop of Lincoln consented to the union because West Wykeham had ‘been attacked by divers pestilences, and was so destitute of parishioners that the number of households or of the persons of parishioners did not reach ten’ (Canon C. W. Foster, Lincoln Record Society, vol. 19, p.lxxii). In addition the bishop noted that the church and the buildings of the vicarage had become ruinous. No priest had been instituted after 1382. In the 1428 parish tax returns both East Wykeham and West Wykeham are separately noted as parishes with fewer than ten households (even though, by then, West Wykeham had been formerly united with Ludford Magna). There is limited documentation for West Wykeham after this date as the village and parish had become fully deserted.

Some medieval pottery has been picked up from the site including Saxo-Norman shelly ware, decorated and glazed wares, and sandy- gritty wares of the C13 and C14.


Abandoned medieval village.

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The site includes the earthworks and buried archaeological remains of the medieval village of West Wykeham. A combination of earthworks and cropmarks clearly depict the street pattern, the site of the church, building platforms (believed to be houses) and associated enclosures. DESCRIPTION West Wykeham is situated on high ground that slopes southwards down to the River Bain and eastwards down to a shallow valley. The remains of the village are preserved under permanent pasture. The earthworks consist of a main hollow way, aligned north-west to south-east from TF 21644 88657 to TF 21867 88476 which was part of the road from South Cadeby to Ludford. It is most clearly defined between TF 21665 88583 and TF 21793 88487 where it survives between 1m and 2m deep for a stretch of c.160m. The south-eastern part of the hollow way survives as a slight earthwork. The road is clearly visible on aerial photographs as a cropmark where it continues eastwards (beyond the area of protection) to join the scheduled East Wykeham half a mile away. Towards the northern extent of the surviving village earthworks a V-shaped feature (at TF 2168588621) appears to represent a fork in the road. To the south-west of this a second hollow way (the back lane) runs from TF 21677 888551 to TF 21658 88485 but another sunken linear feature further to the south-west may represent a continuation of this road. At its southernmost the sunken linear feature doubles as the west side of a large rectangular enclosure, centred at TF 21739 88339, possibly used as a stock enclosure.

The sites of former buildings set in rectangular closes line the edges of the hollow ways. The Lincolnshire National Mapping Programme (NMP) identified the remains of six buildings, all approximately 14m by 8m, consisting of building platforms separated by shallow banks. Two are situated on the south side of the main hollow way and four on the north side. Further to the east, where the hollow way fades from earthwork to cropmark, a parchmark aligned north-south is visible on the north side of the hollow way and appears to represent another croft boundary. The church is clearly visible as an earthwork in the north-west corner of the settlement remains (centred at TF 21620 88584), occupying the highest ground to overlook the village. The earthworks survive to a height of c. 0.5m and clearly depict the plan of the church which measures 15.1m by 7.3m. The church is located within a ditched enclosure, most likely the churchyard, which has an entrance on the north side and measures 42m by 24m.

There are two areas of ridge and furrow within the currently scheduled area of the village complex. To the north-east of the church the ridge and furrow, evident as earthworks, is S-shaped in plan and is aligned east-west with a possible headland along the eastern edge. To the north-west of the church a small area of ridge and furrow is aligned north-south.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The area of protection includes the site of the abandoned medieval village. This is defined on the north and west sides by a hedge and a post and wire fence; and along the south side by a wooded area and a post and wire fence until TF 21779 88296 where the boundary runs northwards to exclude the body of water, defined also by a post and wire fence. The boundary is defined on the east side by a post and wire fence and a hedge, except for the north end which is bounded by a wooded area.

All post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

There is considerable potential for undesignated (but potentially nationally important) remains to survive outside the scheduled monument, particularly relating to the area of ridge and furrow to the north.


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

Legacy System number:
LI 132
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Lost Villages of England, (1954)
Hall, D, Turning the Plough. Midland Open Fields;landscape character and proposals for management, (2001)
Roberts, B K, Wrathmell, S, An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England, (2003)
Pastscape , accessed 4 March 2016 from
Canon C. W. Foster, Extinct Villages and Other Forgotten Places in The Publications of the Lincoln Record Society, vol. 19, 1921
Lincolnshire HER Report 43549 MLI43549


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.

End of official listing

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