Old Spilsby: medieval settlement and cultivation remains south east of Partney Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014704

Date first listed: 14-Dec-1995


Ordnance survey map of Old Spilsby: medieval settlement and cultivation remains south east of Partney Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Partney

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Spilsby

National Grid Reference: TF 40630 67249


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 remains of the medieval settlement known as Old Spilsby have been evaluated under the Monuments Protection Programme Medieval Settlement Diversity Project and have been identified as one of the best surviving medieval settlement sites in the region. The settlement is rare in having been completely deserted at a relatively early date and largely unaltered by later activity. Exceptional in this region is the association of the settlement remains with those of an extensive system of contemporary ridge and furrow cultivation including complete furlongs surviving in good condition. The archaeological relationships between these features will inform us how a settlement of this type functioned socially and economically, both as a unit and as an element in the wider local and regional landscape.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a deserted medieval settlement south east of Partney Bridge, known as Old Spilsby. The remains are believed to represent a settlement which was in existence before the late 11th century and was subsequently depopulated after the present market town of Spilsby was established in the mid 13th century. The settlement was completely deserted by the late 18th century and some of the medieval earthworks reused as post-medieval field boundaries. The remains of the settlement are adjoined by those of the medieval open fields which surrounded it and of associated hollow ways. The monument includes the full extent of the remains of the settlement and the best surviving remains of ridge and furrow cultivation which lie immediately adjacent to it.

The monument is located in the shallow valley of a tributary of the River Lymn approximately 1km north east of Spilsby. The stream runs from south to north through the valley and the remains take the form of a series of earthworks lying to the east and west of it. At the centre of the monument, extending along both sides of the stream, is a roughly rectangular area approximately 100m wide and 250m long bounded on each side by a hollow way; this area is occupied by a series of banks and ditches which include the remains of house plots and associated cultivation and animal enclosures. There are further enclosures along the stream to the north, partly overlain by later earthworks. These features are considered to represent the remains of the medieval settlement of Old Spilsby which extended northwards to the former bank of the River Lymn.

Surrounding the settlement remains are the earthworks of ridge and furrow cultivation, occupying a series of approximately rectangular blocks bounded by hollow ways and ditches. Each of these blocks represents a complete furlong, cultivated in medieval times as a single unit within the large open fields of which it formed a part. Immediately to the south of the settlement remains are two small complete furlongs, bounded by the stream on the west and on the east by a hollow way which runs south westward from the settlement.

All modern fences 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: 22715

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Everson, P E, Hayes, T, Lincolnshire from the Air, (1984), 39
Foster, C W, Longley, T, 'Lincoln Record Society Publications' in Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey Survey, , Vol. 19, (1924), 33, 86
Platts, G, 'History of Lincolnshire' in Land and People in Medieval Lincolnshire, , Vol. IV, (1985), 302
plot of aerial photographs at SMR, RCHME,
site visit 13.12.1995, Catney, Steve, (1995)

End of official listing