Alstoe Moot and part of Alsthorpe deserted medieval village

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010671

Date first listed: 28-Jan-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Sep-1991

Map

Ordnance survey map of Alstoe Moot and part of Alsthorpe deserted medieval village
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

District: Rutland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Burley

National Grid Reference: SK 89421 11995

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

Moots were open-air meeting places set aside for use by courts and other bodies who were responsible for the administration and organisation of the countryside in Anglo-Saxon and medieval England. They were located at convenient, conspicuous or well-known sites, often centrally placed within the area under jurisdiction, usually a hundred, wapentake, or shire. The meeting place could take several forms: a natural feature such as a hilltop, tree or rock; existing man-made features such as prehistoric standing stones, barrows or hillforts; or a purpose-built monument such as a mound. Moots appear to have been first established during the early medieval period between the seventh and ninth centuries AD. Examples are recorded in the Domesday Book and other broadly contemporary documents. Initially, moots were situated in open countryside but, over time, they were relocated in villages or towns. The construction and use of rural moots declined after the 13th century. The normal form of purpose-built moot was the moot mound. These take the form of large, squat, turf-covered mounds with a flat or concave top, usually surrounded by a ditch. Occasionally, prehistoric barrows were remodelled to provide suitable sites. It is estimated that there were between 250 and 1000 moots in medieval England, although only a limited number of these were man- made mounds and only a proportion of these survive today. Moots are generally a poorly understood class of monument with considerable potential to provide information on the organisation and administration of land units in the Middle Ages. They are a comparatively rare and long-lived type of monument and the earliest examples will be amongst a very small range of sites predating the Norman Conquest which survive as monumental earthworks and readily appreciable landscape features. On this basis, all well preserved or historically well documented moot mounds are identified as nationally important.

The moot is surrounded by the earthwork remains of the village of Alsthorpe. Typically, villages of this kind would include house platforms, garden plots, holloways and small fields and Alsthorpe is a highly representative example of its type. The reasons for the desertion of such villages are varied, but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in landuse such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. Alsthorpe is made more unusual because of its rare association with a pre-Conquest moot. As a meeting place, the moot probably continued in use well into the medieval period and provides good evidence for the longevity of monuments of this kind in this part of rural Leicestershire.

History

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

Details

Alsthorpe deserted medieval village stands on relatively high ground to the east of the B668, mid-way between the villages of Burley and Cottesmore. The monument consists of a substantial mound, identified as a moot or meeting place, and the earthwork remains of the medieval village. Alstoe moot is a large irregularly-shaped mound, about 35m in diameter and 5m high. Surrounding the mound is a heavily silted ditch 8m wide and 1.5m deep. On the southern and western sides of the mound are two very pronounced straight ditches 8m wide and 1.5m deep which appear to mark the edges of adjacent enclosures. Adjacent to the mound are the deserted medieval village earthworks which include a series of house platforms and garden plots located on either side of a north-south running holloway. The outlines of rectangular buildings are still discernible on some of the platforms. Excavations of the moot and the straight ditches have shown them to be contemporary and of Saxon date. The site is also mentioned in the Domesday Book, and there is a documentary reference to a large `green' ditch next to `Altiechestouwe' in 1207. The village may have Saxon origins but was certainly occupied from the Norman period until its desertion in the 15th or 16th century.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 17009

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Rutland, (1911), 112
Bourne, J, Place-names of Leicestershire and Rutland, (1981), 62
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Rutland, (1983), 11/12
Dunning, G C, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Alstoe Mount, Burley, Rutland, , Vol. 16, (1936), 396-411

End of official listing