Moated grange and enclosure at Owston


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010305

Date first listed: 25-Feb-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jun-1992


Ordnance survey map of Moated grange and enclosure at Owston
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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: Owston and Newbold

National Grid Reference: SK 78800 08192


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

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

The monument at Owston is a very extensive and well-preserved example of a moated grange. The monument has considerable potential for preserving building foundations and other occupation evidence both within the interior of the moat and the attached enclosure.


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


The moated site at Owston, known locally as `Oliver Cromwell's Castle', is situated midway between the villages of Owston and Knossington. It comprises a large sub-rectangular moat and an associated enclosure to the south. The moat is substantial measuring 110 x 125m overall. The surrounding ditch is waterfilled and measures 12-15m wide, and up to 3m deep at the south east corner. On the north west, an inturned corner of the moat has an extra arm that projects into the island for 20m. An inner bank is identifiable on the south and east sides of the island and an entrance causeway is visible near the south west corner. The moat was fed by a stream entering via a feeder channel on the north west side. Attached to the south side of the moat is a large enclosure defined partly by a ditch 6m wide and 1m deep which runs the width of the field 60m to the south. The ditch turns at either end and follows banks surmounted by hedgelines northwards back towards the moat. There are further connecting ditches and a large hollow in the north east of the enclosure. The parish was owned by Owston Abbey, and it is considered that the site was a moated grange farm belonging to the Abbey.

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: 17031

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bott, D J, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society' in Oliver Cromwell's Castle, , Vol. 26, (1950)

End of official listing