North Marefield deserted medieval village and moated site


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010306

Date first listed: 26-Mar-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of North Marefield deserted 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: Owston and Newbold

County: Leicestershire

District: Melton (District Authority)

Parish: Somerby

National Grid Reference: SK 74998 08923


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 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. Despite the later quarry holes, the village site at north Marefield is very well preserved with a wide diversity of features and a well documented association with a medieval chapel. It is one of the best surviving examples of a deserted village site in Leicestershire.


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


The deserted village site of North Marefield is situated on the south side of a stream, in open countryside 1km north of the present village of Marefield. It includes an extensive network of hollow trackways, closes and building platforms and a moated site situated in the north east. The village of North Marefield developed beside the old road, now a bridle- path on the south side of the site, and covered a large area. The numerous trackways are interspersed with approximately twenty building platforms occurring mainly on the eastern side of the site. On the remainder of the site, banks and scarps mark the boundaries of closes and gardens. It is considered that a platform on the western side, where several large blocks of dressed stone have been found, contains remains of the chapel. The moated site is roughly 30m square in overall dimensions, with a ditch 1m deep and 6- 8m wide, and an island measuring 15 x 20m. A channel leads from the moat down a slope to the stream. The site contains many later quarry holes, which may have resulted from gravel extraction for a nearby railway. Documentary evidence shows that the principal reason for desertion of this village was the imposed change in land use from arable to pasture in the 15th century reflecting increases in the price of wool. It is further confirmed by records of a dispute concerning large flocks of sheep, dated to 1463. The chapel on the site is considered to be the same one documented as belonging to Owston, which was already in existence by 1166. The footbridge which crosses the stream is excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath it 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: 17030

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hoskins, WG, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in The Deserted Villages of Leicestershire (Volume 22), , Vol. 22, (1945)
St Joseph, J K S, 'Antiquity' in Air Reconnaisance: Recent Results, , Vol. 40, (1966)

End of official listing