Deserted medieval village of Hamilton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012557

Date first listed: 29-May-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Sep-1992


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

County: Leicestershire

District: Charnwood (District Authority)

Parish: Barkby Thorpe

National Grid Reference: SK 64343 07414


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 and often had a nearby system of fishponds. Such moated sites form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for understanding the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside.

The village site at Hamilton is exceptionally well preserved with a wide diversity of features and good documentation indicating the period of desertion. It is one of a series of deserted sites providing useful comparative information on a large area of depopulation in eastern Leicestershire.


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


The deserted village site at Hamilton is located between the villages of Scraptoft and Barkby Thorpe on the north-east side of the city of Leicester and includes a moated site and a fishpond contained within the village earthworks. The area of village earthworks is contained within a roughly rectangular area measuring approximately 330m x 300m which is crossed by the Scraptoft to Barkby Thorpe road on its eastern side and the Melton Brook on the northern side. The boundaries of the medieval village are clearly defined by a bank 1.5m high on the south side beyond which lies ridge and furrow ploughing which can also be seen to the north-west of the site. A well defined internal street system is evidenced by hollow ways, the main examples of which run north-south and east-west and are up to 1m deep. The village street system does not relate to either the modern road or a footpath which crosses the site. A series of house platforms are evident, at least ten of which lie in the northern part of the site. A platform on the south-western side of the site is believed to be the site of a chapel. Platforms are often adjacent to closes, a large example of which lies on the south-east side of the site defined by ditches of about 1m in depth. On the northern side of the close is a rectangular moated area measuring 55m x 45m overall. The moat ditches are approximately 1 deep and 8m in width with a channel leading off on the eastern side. Adjacent to the north-western corner, but not connected to it, is a rectangular fishpond measuring 30m x 10m which is about 1m deep.

The name of Hamilton is first recorded in c.1125 when it contained 374 acres of land. By 1377 there were only four taxpayers and it is clear that desertion took place in the next century. A chapel dedicated to St John was dependent on Barkby. A series of small excavations were carried out in the years following the Second World War in which a large circular hearth and flooring was discovered together with medieval and Roman finds. The modern road on the eastern side of the site and the footbridge over Melton Brook are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 17068

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hoskins, W G, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in Seven Deserted Village Sites in Leicestershire (Volume 32), , Vol. 32, (1956), 44-5
Hoskins, WG, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in The Deserted Villages of Leicestershire (Volume 22), , Vol. 22, (1945), 243-4

End of official listing