Muscott deserted medieval village and double moated site

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009555

Date first listed: 18-Aug-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 19-May-1993

Map

Ordnance survey map of Muscott deserted medieval village and double moated site
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

County: Northamptonshire

District: Daventry (District Authority)

Parish: Norton

National Grid Reference: SP 62686 63349

Summary

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 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.

Also sometimes associated with deserted settlements are moated sites which often served as prestigious manorial settlements. 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. Muscott deserted medieval village has exceptionally well preserved earthworks in which the remains of roadways, property boundaries and houses can be clearly defined. Documentary evidence indicates that Muscott was a long-lived settlement which was established at the time of the Domesday Survey and occupied into the 16th century. Alongside the village lie the earthworks of an unusual double moated site known to have been the location of the manorial residence associated with the village. Although a small part of the village has been excavated, the earthworks of the moated site and village together have considerable potential for the retention of archaeological evidence on the development and decline of a substantial manorial settlement of the medieval period in Northamptonshire.

History

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

Details

The monument at Muscott lies just to the north-west of the village of Brockhall, although the two places are identified as separate settlements. The site consists of the earthwork remains of the deserted medieval village and of a double moated site, the location of the Muscott medieval manor house. The remains of the village are orientated with respect to a major hollow way between 1.5m and 2m deep, which runs from WSW to ENE through the settlement, with a further hollow way branching off to the north. Alongside the roads low scarps show the extent of property boundaries and, within these areas, raised platforms indicate the sites of former buildings. In the western part of the village earthworks, hollow ways and property boundaries cover the faint remains of ridge and furrow, indicating that the village was extended in this direction. To the south of the remains of the village lay further crofts belonging to the village and some of these were excavated in 1958 prior to their destruction. Within one of the crofts the remains of three buildings were discovered. One building was a stone house with a hearth and two others proved to be the locations of timber barns. All the buildings were dated to the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. To the south-west of the medieval village lie earthwork remains which originally consisted of two linked rectangular moats. The western moat island covers an area measuring approximately 90m x 75m, and is recorded as the location of the medieval manor house belonging to the village, and part of the south ditch of this moat, together with a slight external bank, can still be seen, although the rest of the ditches and much of the moat island have been destroyed by later building. The gatehouse to the present Muscott House is considered to be late medieval in date with 19th-century additions and is listed Grade II. The second moat lies just to the east of the main moat, is connected to it and covers an area 67m x 57m. The eastern moat island is surrounded on the north, east and south sides by a ditch 0.3m deep. To the west of the two moats lie the earthwork remains of water channels and a rectangular fishpond, 40m long, 8m wide and up to a metre deep which was part of the medieval site. The village at Muscott is recorded in Domesday Book along with the nearby village of Brockhall. Muscott village is also documented throughout the 14th century and is recorded as paying the highest tax in the county for the Lay Subsidy in 1334, but by 1377 only five people paid the Poll Tax. In 1547 records show that 300 sheep grazed the pasture at Muscott and in 1576 Sir John Spencer of Althorp bought the manor which consisted of pastures and meadow. In the centre of the field containing the deserted medieval village lies a stone cattle trough of the last century and this is excluded from the scheduling. Muscott House, the listed gatehouse and all outbuildings and farm buildings on the monument are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath the buildings throughout the site is included.

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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 13652

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Allison, K J, Beresford, M W, Hurst, J G, The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire, (1966)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological sites of Northamptonshire, Volume III

End of official listing