Martinsthorpe deserted medieval village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010926

Date first listed: 12-Aug-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Jan-1992


Ordnance survey map of Martinsthorpe deserted medieval village
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Rutland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Martinsthorpe

National Grid Reference: SK 86633 04668


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.

Martinsthorpe deserted village is a well preserved example of a Leicestershire medieval village complex. Documentary evidence shows that the medieval manor was part of the estates of the de Montfort family, one of the most powerful noble families in this period.


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


The site of Martinsthorpe deserted medieval village occupies an exposed ridge 4km south of Oakham. The site comprises medieval village earthwork remains, including a manorial moat and a listed post medieval standing building.

The earthwork remains represent house platforms, hollow ways, village closes and a pond. A rectangular moated site measuring approximately 100m E-W, and 75m N-S is contained within the village earthworks on the north side of the site. The ditches are 1m deep on the south and west sides. Aerial photography indicates the village formerly extended to the south, but this area is now under plough and no visible features survive. Later development of the site in the centre of the village involved the building of Martinsthorpe house in the late 17th century (demolished 1775), seen today as a substantial irregular mound of rubble. Adjoining this is the site of a chapel, contemporary with the hall, which was used for worship until the present century. There is documentary reference for the chapel's existence in 1589. A nearby standing building dating from the late 16th-early 17th century, known as Martinsthorpe farmhouse, was converted from a former stables.

The deserted village is a feature characteristic of the medieval period, there being about 3,000 sites known nationally and about 80 in Leicestershire. There were many reasons for desertion, the principal being the change in land use from arable to pasture in the 15th century due to an increase in the price of wool. Martinsthorpe is first mentioned in 1205, and in 1327 there were 14 householders. The manor became part of the estates of the de Montfort family, remaining in their ownership until the reign of Henry VI. During this time it was sub-let to the Seyton family, and eventually passed to the Fieldings who became the Earls of Denbigh in 1622. By the time the Hall was built the village was depopulated. An excavation was carried out in 1960 on a small area to the south which is now ploughed, in which evidence of medieval occupation was found.

Martinsthorpe farmhouse, the only standing building, was occupied until 1952, and today has its doors and windows blocked. It is a grade II listed building and excluded from the scheduling. The trackway, which has a concrete surface, is also excluded. The ground beneath the farmhouse and the trackway is included in the scheduling.

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: 17013

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Rutland, (1983), 27-8
Waites, B, Exploring Rutland, (1982), 17-8
Cox, B, 'Anglo Saxon England' in Rutland and the Scandinavian Settlements: The Place Name Evidence, , Vol. 18, (1989), 140
Wacher, J, 'Transactions of the Leics Arch and Hist Society' in Excavations at Martinsthorpe, Rutland 1960, , Vol. 39, (1963), 1-19

End of official listing