Site of St Mary's Priory, Greenfield


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008687

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of Site of St Mary's Priory, Greenfield
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Aby with Greenfield

National Grid Reference: TF 43291 77979


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women. Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. The earliest English nunneries were founded in the seventh century AD but most of these had fallen out of use by the ninth century. A small number of these were later refounded. The tenth century witnessed the foundation of some new houses but the majority of medieval nunneries were established from the late 11th century onwards. Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time, including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The priory of St Mary, Greenfield, has never been excavated archaeologically. Later remains largely overlie, rather than cut into, earlier deposits. Finds of building material beneath the present farmhouse, and the survival of earthworks in the adjacent paddock, indicate the preservation of below-ground features.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of the medieval priory of St Mary, Greenfield, a Cistercian nunnery founded before 1153 and dissolved in 1536. The remains consist of a moat enclosing a raised platform and other earthworks. The moat, averaging 10m in width, encloses a roughly rectangular area of approximately 2ha currently occupied by a farmhouse, farmbuildings, yards, garden and paddock. The moat varies in depth and has been partly filled-in along its south-eastern arm, where dumping has taken place, although it survives as a buried feature. In the southern corner it has been completely filled-in for a length of about 40m where the farmyard has been extended approximately 27m to the south along an access road. There is a break of about 20m in the circuit of the moat on its south-western arm which is considered to be the original entrance to the conventual enclosure. Immediately to the north-west of this, the moat has been cut by the creation of an equestrian cross-country water jump. Enclosed by the moat is the area of the conventual precinct, raised approximately 1m above the surrounding farmland. At the centre of the enclosure is a raised platform roughly 70m square partly covered by the present farmhouse and its outbuildings. The discovery of sandstone blocks beneath the house when it was rebuilt in the 1960s indicates that the platform is the site of the conventual buildings. The platform is at its highest immediately east of the house and is covered by low earthworks. Some of these represent later activity on the site, but others will represent activity contemporary with the priory. The north-eastern edge of the platform terminates in a bank approximately 15m from and parallel with the edge of the moat. To the south is an area of farmyard, partly paved and occupied by farm- buildings. West of the platform is a level area laid to lawn. The raised area is bounded on the north-west by a linear depression approximately 7m wide which runs roughly parallel with the edge of the moat. At its eastern end it takes the form of a deep ditch, approximately 15m long, recently re-cut. At its western end it joins the moat where it is cut by the water-jump. Beyond this depression is an area of pasture, enclosed by the northern part of the moat, with no apparent above-ground features. Excluded from the scheduling are the farmhouse and its outbuildings, the farmbuildings and all fences, 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: 22604

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906)
'Lincolnshire History and Archaeology' in Archaeological Notes, , Vol. 2, (1968)

End of official listing