Willoughby deserted medieval village, post-medieval moated manor, church, six fishponds, ridge and furrow and hollow way


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013884

Date first listed: 25-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Feb-1993


Ordnance survey map of Willoughby deserted medieval village, post-medieval moated manor, church, six fishponds, ridge and furrow and hollow way
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Newark and Sherwood (District Authority)

Parish: Norwell

National Grid Reference: SK7876663030


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.

Willoughby deserted medieval village is a small but well-preserved example exhibiting clear evidence of crofts and house platforms, fishponds, a hollow way and a church. The sample of ridge and furrow included in the scheduling is a good example of two articulated blocks or furlongs which illustrate well the typical reversed-C curve of medieval plough-ridges and the fan shape common to medieval strip fields. In addition to the reasons for desertion given above, a common cause was the forced removal of village populations in the post-medieval period, often to provide an uninterrupted view for the inhabitants of stately homes and manor houses. This may have been the case at Willoughby where a post-medieval moated manor has clearly been superimposed on the medieval village site. There are around 6000 moated sites known in England and the majority of them served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. Most moats date to the period between about 1250 and 1350, but many continued in use into the post-medieval period when the original timber buildings were often replaced in timber-framed brick and stone, and some are still inhabited today. They exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Willoughby moat is a large, well-preserved example associated with a wide range of additional features including gardens, ponds, ancillary buildings and a driveway linking it the road. Archaeological remains relating to both medieval and post-medieval occupation will survive well and extensively throughout the monument.


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


The monument includes the remains of a small deserted medieval village, the post-medieval moated manor which superseded it, six fishponds, the site of a church or chapel, and a sample of associated ridge and furrow. The village remains include a row of crofts flanking the east side of the road from Norwell to Carlton on Trent. There are at least eight of these small enclosed plots of land. Seven are parallel, linear enclosures orientated east to west, and the eighth, situated at the north end of the group, is a roughly triangular banked enclosure. The crofts are divided either by a low bank and ditch or simply a shallow ditch. The triangular enclosure and several of the crofts contain rectangular platforms which are the sites of medieval longhouses. To the south of the crofts there is a complex of earthworks which include numerous building platforms and a large rectangular pond, deeper at its western end than at its eastern. Overall, this feature measures c.35m x 20m and is up to 1.75m deep. It is fed from the north by a channel leading from a second shallower pond measuring c.25m x 15m x 1m deep. A building platform projects into this pond which also has an outlet into the ditch flanking the south side of the first croft. This ditch runs eastward between two banks, of which the southern then turns southwards to partially enclose the area south of the crofts. Another rectangular pond lies in the north-east corner of this enclosure and measures c.20m x 40m x 1m deep. To the west of this is a platform surrounded on three sides by robbed-out wall trenches with, to the east, a slightly sunken area which, although disturbed, can be seen to have included three arms projecting north, south and east with the latter having a semi-circular end. Because of these characteristics, the feature has been interpreted as the site of a small church or chapel. Flanking the east side of the crofts and extending southwards alongside the enclosure to the south is a hollow way or sunken track. This hollow way, which originated as an access route serving the medieval village, has in places been altered by widening and levelling and by the addition of drainage ditches on either side. These improvements will have been carried out in the post- medieval period in association with other works relating to access to the moated manor. The site of the manor is to the east of the village though it may also overlie part of the village remains since it is likely to have replaced a medieval manorial complex. It includes a large, well-preserved moat which was the site of the post-medieval manor house. The moat includes a roughly square island measuring 40m x 45m surrounded by a 10m wide ditch crossed by a causeway on the south side and surrounded by outer revetment banks which may mark the site of a wall. The remains of ancillary buildings and other features survive to the north, west and south of the moat and include, to the west, three additional rectangular fishponds of which two are joined at right-angles. These measure 18m x 11m and 12m x 35m respectively while the third measures 9m x 30m. All are c.1m deep and, together with the moat, lie within a large banked enclosure. On the north side of the moat, this enclosure is sub-divided by at least one transverse bank, while, to the west, the area between the fishponds and moat contains other smaller enclosures divided by banks and ditches. To the south of the moat is another large enclosure containing features interpreted as the sites of walled or sunken gardens. To the north, beyond the main enclosure bank, is a line of four rectangular platforms measuring, from west to east, 6m x 10m, 46m x 10m, 28m x 10m and 25m x 10m respectively. The last three formed a continuous range, now sub-divided by robbed out wall trenches, and show evidence of thresholds both between platforms and opening onto a thoroughfare to the south, between the buildings and the moat. While there is no precise evidence at present of the buildings' function, a likely interpretation would be that they were stable blocks and a coach house. The thoroughfare joins up with the widened hollow way to the west. To the north, behind the building range, are the remains of a substantial wall and ditch which formerly enclosed the manorial complex on that side. In addition to linking up with the lane serving the stable block, the hollow way also extended southwards in the post-medieval period to connect with a driveway which approached the manor from the Norwell road. This road can be seen to the south of the enclosure containing the chapel and takes the form of a level sward flanked to north and south by ditches. The width of this drive varies between 16m at its eastern end, where it joins the line of the hollow way, and c.30m at its western end, where it joins the Norwell road. This suggests that, at this point, the driveway may have forked so that there were two exits onto the road, one to the north and one to the south. At the narrowest point there is a sharply defined right-angled recess in the north side of the road which may have been the site of a gatehouse. To the south of the drive is a remnant of the open-fields which formerly served the medieval village and may have survived in use into the post-medieval period. The remains consist of two interlocking blocks of ridge and furrow, one running east to west, the other north to south. Each plough ridge is c.0.5m high and the distance between the furrows is c.8m. To the north-east are the remains of another banked enclosure. This contains a rectangular sunken feature which has been truncated by the modern field boundary. All boundary fencing and gates are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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: 23208

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Deserted Villages, (1963)
67/208 291-2,
Drawing of manor house,
St Joseph, J K, EX 18, EF 6,

End of official listing