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Shrunken medieval village at Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Shrunken medieval village at Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire

List entry Number: 1009554


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Bedford

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Milton Ernest

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 08-Nov-1991

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 13613

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

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 earthworks at Milton Ernest are particularly well preserved and offer considerable archaeological potential for the investigation of the economic and social decline of the medieval village.


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


The monument is composed of two areas of earthworks which lie on the eastern side of the village of Milton Ernest. At Flewton End a holloway 10m wide and over 1.5m deep runs north-west for 420m and remains of house platforms can be clearly identified to the west of the roadway. This is part of the remains of the shrunken medieval village, and medieval pottery can be found in the ploughed areas to the east of the holloway. About 400m south of Flewton End, within a long field measuring about 200m by 320m which lies to the south of Manor Farm, are the remains of the earthworks of a second part of the original medieval village. Here a roadway runs west to east across the site, and banks and ditches define tracks together with plot and field boundaries. Alongside the tracks, house platforms can also be seen. Around the area of the original village the remains of the extensive ridge and furrow field system which surrounded the village are still apparent over large areas particularly to the east. These two sites formed part of the original medieval village of Milton Ernest which stood at the centre of an extensive agricultural area, and was twice its present size in 14th century. Changes in agricultural activity and population decline caused the village to shrink in later periods.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Hutchings, J B, Milton Ernest - A Field Survey, (1969)
Also map from aerial photos, Simco, A., SMR BD 3297 R & F, (1978)

National Grid Reference: TL 02189 55959, TL 02194 56534


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This copy shows the entry on 20-Sep-2018 at 05:18:01.

End of official listing