Deserted medieval settlement and associated fields, Lytes Cary
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008253
Date first listed: 22-Mar-1994
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This copy shows the entry on 26-Mar-2019 at 14:20:44.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Somerset (District Authority)
Parish: Charlton Mackrell
National Grid Reference: ST 53126 26545
Reasons for Designation
The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets,
paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community
primarily devoted to farming, was a significant component of the rural
landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages
provided some services to the local community as well as acting as the focus
of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish.
Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously
down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now
occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually
throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during
the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The
reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining
economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large
parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and
contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval
villages are recorded nationally. Because they are a common and long-lived
monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on
the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the
regions and through time.
The deserted medieval settlement and field system at Lytes Cary survives as a good example of its class, and will contain archaeological remains relating to the settlement and manor.
The monument includes a deserted medieval settlement and associated fields as
defined by a survey in 1980, surviving as earthworks in the pastureland of
Lytes Cary park.
The earthworks consist of grassed-over banks, hollows and scarps 0.2m-0.7m
high forming small square or rectangular fields, paddocks and closes, fed by
hollowed tracks and wider ways, with a number of building platforms visible on
the ground and more on air photographs. On the north-west of the site are the
remains of what was perhaps the former manor of Tucker's Cary. Three of the
fields on the flatter central portion exhibit very slight traces of ridge and
furrow ploughing. There are five adjoining blocks of fields laid out in
distinct topographical zones on a rough north-south/east-west axis. A road
runs along the west of the site, and the landscape appears to be aligned with
On the north-east, flat and gently sloping but higher than the adjoining
ground, is a block of three large trapezoidal fields, seemingly orientated on
the area occupied by the present Lytes Cary House, and bounded by ditched
banks. To the west of these at a lower level is a block divided by ditches or
hollow ways into four rectangular fields. Separating these two blocks is a
broad terraced droveway leading to a compact group of ditched rectangular
platforms which may indicate a farm site.
Below this to the west and adjoining the second block is a central field,
divided into a larger and smaller portion by a shallow ditch. On the west this
field is bounded by a double hollow way or double ditch.
Leading down into the central area from the south is a broad hollow way or
droveway, running through the fourth block of fields. This block, on the
western end of the higher, sloping ground to the south, contains small square
or rectangular fields bounded by lynchets, including a 'ladder' of small
square fields with a building or enclosure hollow in the lowest. The sites of
further buildings are visible in this area on aerial photographs.
The fifth field block is in the south-eastern part of the higher ground. At
one end, adjoining the central field, is a small oblong field, and above this
is a large field crossed by drain gullies. To the east an area of land
terraced above this across a hollow way appears to be associated with the area
of land occupied by Lytes Cary House.
Running along the south of the site on the higher land and bounding the
earthworks is a hollow way leading towards the area occupied by the house. At
the junction of this and the hollow way between the two southern blocks of
fields is a pond. Beyond this and lying to the south of the fifth field block
is an area of well-pronounced ridge and furrow, also orientated north-south.
Aerial photographs show that this is part of extensive former ridge and furrow
around the settlement.
On the north-west of the site are features of a different nature. In the lower
corner of the lynchet block of fields is a large square enclosure defined by a
stone bank up to c.1m high on the south and east, a stone faced scarp on the
north, and the present road on the west. This is shown as an enclosure on the
Tithe Map of 1809, and post-dates the medieval settlement. Above the scarp and
on the north-west of the site is an uneven area of earthworks and hollows,
which has been suggested as the site of an old manor house. The visible
earthworks mainly result from surface quarrying for limestone, cutting into
the fields at one point and therefore likely to post-date their abandonment.
However, in the south of the area are banks suggesting a large building (20m x
10m) and yard predating or contemporary with the quarrying.
The present Cook's Cary Farm across the road from this is marked 'Lower Lytes
Cary' on the Tithe Map of 1809, with the area occupied by the present house
marked 'Higher Lytes Cary', indicating that the two areas began as part of a
single village. The present houses and buildings of the village around Cook's
Cary Farm did not exist in 1809.
Excluded from the scheduling are modern fences, posts and telegraph poles,
although the ground beneath these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 24013
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, (1958), 228
Burrow, I, Site Visit Form PRN 53683, (1979)
Deserted Settlement Site:Tucker's C'y, Thackray, D, The National Trust Wessex Region Archaeological Sites Record, (1978)
Title: Charlton Adam & Ch.Mackrell MapB No545 for Inclosure Award Source Date: 1809 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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