Deserted medieval village, a bowl barrow, and part of a prehistoric field system opposite Lake House in Lake Bottom


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010879

Date first listed: 03-Mar-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Mar-1995


Ordnance survey map of Deserted medieval village, a bowl barrow, and part of a prehistoric field system opposite Lake House in Lake Bottom
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wilsford cum Lake

National Grid Reference: SU 13143 38766


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.

The deserted medieval village opposite Lake House survives well, and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Village earthworks as extensive and detailed as this example are rare on the Wessex chalkland generally and in the Stonehenge area in particular. Also within this monument is a section of prehistoric field system, examples of which rarely survive in areas of cultivated downland such as this, and a bowl barrow. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, normally ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a variety of burial practices. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally and around 260 in the Stonehenge area. A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. Two of the best known and the earliest recognised areas are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site. The area of chalk downland which surrounds Stonehenge contains one of the densest and most varied groups of Neolithic and Bronze Age field monuments in Britain. Included within the area are Stonehenge itself, the Stonehenge cursus, the Durrington Walls henge, and a variety of burial monuments, many grouped into cemeteries. The area has been the subject of archaeological research since the 18th century when Stukeley recorded many of the monuments and partially excavated a number of the burial mounds. More recently, the collection of artefacts from the surfaces of ploughed fields has supplemented the evidence for ritual and burial by revealing the intensity of contemporary settlement and land-use. In view of the importance of the area, all ceremonial and sepulchral monuments of this period which retain significant archaeological remains are identified as nationally important.


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


The monument includes a deserted medieval village situated in Lake Bottom opposite Lake House, together with a bowl barrow situated at the top of the slope above the village. The monument occupies the valley bottom and a steep, north-facing slope overlooking it. Lake is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but is probably represented as one of the assessments for Wilsford, both of one hide before the Conquest. It is probable that the holding came into the hands of the Earl of Salisbury in the early 12th century and remained in the family for 200 years. The monument is a triangular area c.500m east-west by 200m north-south, visible on the flat ground adjacent to the Springbottom Farm track and on the steep slope above it as a group of slight earthworks generally 0.25m to 1m high, with downcut areas of similar proportions. The monument was the subject of a measured survey in 1984, from which it is known that the structure of the village represented by these earthworks is aligned with the topography of Lake Bottom and therefore parallel to the farm track, and has the overall form of a village consisting of rows of properties either side of a single street. The element adjacent to the farm track is a series of rectilinear earthworks 275m long by 35m wide in overall size, largely composed of low banks, platforms and hollows which are interpreted as the remains of houses, gardens and other features which constitute the properties of the village. On the southern edge of the properties is a downcut earthwork interpreted as the high street of the village. It is 350m long and ranges from 3m to 8m in width and is 0.5m to 1m deep. The eastern 100m section is up to 15m wide, having been deepened and widened to form a lake during the conversion of the area to parkland, probably in the early 17th century. South of the street is a second series of earthworks representing properties which occupy most of the remaining flat ground between the street and the foot of the slope. These extend for 450m along the valley, almost the full length of the monument, and are 25m to 30m wide. East of the village centre these earthworks run to the base of the slope. West of the centre is a large trapezoidal enclosure 195m long and between 60m and 90m wide divided into three rectangular plots. Slight indications of ridging indicate that the southern sectors of these plots were cultivated as gardens or fields. The northern sectors of each plot are occcupied by earthworks representing properties which front onto the village street. The southern edge of the trapezoidal enclosure is defined by a terrace c.5m wide cut into the base of the slope, and interpreted as a field way. South of this and cut into the hillside is a further set of scarps and hollows which may represent either quarrying or squatter activity on the southern margin of the village. The measured survey also revealed that a number of earthworks have been constructed up the hillside. On the slope above the eastern half of the village are several slight banks orientated north west-south east, interpreted as the remains of a prehistoric field system. Above the steeper part of the valley side a number of lynchets are visible as slight earthworks 0.5m-1m high, following the contour. A group of hollow ways have their origin at the centre of the village, climb the steep part of the slope, divide and turn east and west along it, with one hollow way crossing the lynchets and extending to the southern border of the monument. There are indications that the field system represented by the lynchets had several alterations to its layout. The monument also includes a bowl barrow located 200m south west of Lake House. The barrow mound has a conical profile and stands 4.75m high and is 26m in diameter, surrounded by a ditch 4m wide and c.0.7m deep, from which material was quarried during its construction. There are indications of an outer bank, surviving as a slight earthwork c.4m wide and giving the barrow an overall diameter of 42m. The profile of the mound displays a distinctly stepped line, the result of the construction of a second conical mound on top of the original rounded mound. This alteration may be associated with the gentrification of the area, and was intended to provide a prospect mound from which to view Lake House and its parkland.

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: 10362

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 199
RCHME, Lake DMV measured survey, (1984)
SU13NW450, Wiltshire Sites and Monuments Record, (1982)

End of official listing