Whatborough deserted medieval village


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Whatborough deserted medieval village
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008555 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 07:36:49.


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

Harborough (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 77135 05955

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 devoted primarily to agriculture, 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 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 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. 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. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. 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 site of Whatborough is well preserved and retains evidence of a wide variety of features. It is unique in Leicestershire in that there exists a 16th century map which uses evidence on the ground to recreate the plan of the village prior to desertion in 1495. It also has good documentary evidence demonstrating important connections with two religious houses.


The monument at Whatborough is situated on the south facing slope of a limestone hill which is one of the highest points in east Leicestershire and includes an extensive area of deserted medieval village earthworks.

The village earthworks occupy an irregularly shaped area of some 300 x 200m. A large hollow way measuring up to 15m wide and 2m deep leads into the site from the south-east and runs westwards. Along this hollow way are the most clearly defined house platforms together with a distinct square shaped house enclosure situated in the north-eastern part of the site. Clear evidence of internal property boundaries exists in many parts of the site. An internal road system consisting of an axial road running north-south and forking before joining the southern hollow way forms an island of earthworks in the centre of the village complex. The southern part of the site, located around a spring, appears to have been annexed at a later date and does not conform to the remaining village plan. A dry stream bed, outside the area of the scheduling, runs south from this area.

The village is listed in Domesday Book and in the mid 12th century was granted jointly to the Priory of Alderbury in Shropshire and to the neighbouring Priory of Launde. In 1327, Alderbury leased its Whatborough lands to the Priory of Launde but after the suppression of the Alien Priories by Henry V Alderbury's lands became Crown property. In 1437, Whatborough was given to All Souls College, Oxford, who leased the lands back to Launde. In 1495 Launde enclosed Whatborough parish and turned it over to pasture land, thus bringing about depopulation. Ownership between Launde and All Souls College was in contention in the mid 16th century and, because of this, a map was commissioned in 1586 to define the village as it was prior to enclosure. This map survives today.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Title: The Plan of Whatborough: a Study of the Sixteenth-Century Map Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Pagination 83-92


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].