Cold Newton shrunken medieval village and moated site


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009197

Date first listed: 06-Aug-1985

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Apr-1993


Ordnance survey map of Cold Newton shrunken medieval village and moated site
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Cold Newton

National Grid Reference: SK 71506 06331, SK 71703 06567, SK 71769 06501

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.

Also sometimes associated with medieval settlements are moated sites which often served as prestigious manorial residences. Such moated sites form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains. Cold Newton is one of a group of isolated medieval rural settlements in East Leicestershire. It survives in exceptionally good condition and has a wide diversity of associated features, including a moat. The well preserved and extensive earthworks indicate the considerable archaeological potential of the site.


Cold Newton shrunken medieval village is situated on high ground in north- east Leicestershire. It comprises extensive village earthworks on both north and south facing slopes with the present day habitation being situated on the highest ground lying between. The earthworks are divided into three areas, the first of which is north of the present village, west of Skeg Hill Road and forms an `L' shape measuring 350m north-south and 325m east-west. A prominent hollow way up to 2m deep running north-south is a continuation of the present Main Street which lies to the south. Leading off the hollow way are many house platforms and smaller trackways enabling an almost complete village road system to be traced. On the far north side are two embanked fishponds over 200m apart. The first fishpond, in the north-western corner, is rectangular measuring 30m x 20m overall with 1m high banks; the second is roughly square, its sides measuring approximately 40m with banks of about 1m in height. A stream runs down the western boundary of the area and originally fed the fishponds via a connecting channel. The second area lies to the east of Skeg Hill Road and is 300m long and between 75m and 125m wide with a section at the northern end which contains the later manor house which is not included in the scheduling. Village earthworks are identified in the form of minor trackways leading off Skeg Hill Road and a series of house platforms of various shapes and sizes. At the south-eastern corner of the area is a well defined square moat with an entrance causeway on its south-western corner and a ditch up to 2m deep and waterlogged on its northern arm. An external bank of varying height of up to 1m lies on the north side. Differing grass colour and slight unevenness of the surface on the moat island indicate the presence of manorial buildings. Situated 170m to the north of the moat is a circular windmill mound 2m high and 10m in diameter. Excluded from the scheduling are the house and garden on the north-west side of the moat. The third area is roughly a square, the sides of which are 100m in length and which is situated to the south of the present inhabited village. It is comprised entirely of village earthworks consisting of hollow trackways and rectangular house platforms. Cold Newton was originally known as Newton Burdet. It had 11 households at the Domesday survey, 38 taxpayers in 1377, 15 households in 1563 and 1670 and 101 inhabitants at the time of the census in 1801.

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: 17044

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hoskins, W G, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in Seven Deserted Village Sites in Leicestershire (Volume 32), , Vol. 32, (1956)

End of official listing