Reasons for Designation
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where
the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain
by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial
deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle
variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and
hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations
suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province
there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some
of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of
farms out of earlier villages.
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, generally sited at
the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land,
meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where they survive
as earthworks, their most distinguishing features include roads and minor
tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns,
enclosed crofts and paddocks. They frequently included the parish church
within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system, most villages
included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible
remains as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of England,
villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their
archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding
about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
The settlement remains include complete ground plans of small houses as well
as earthwork evidence for the overall layout of the village. Additional buried
remains such as rubbish pits, yard surfaces, and spreads of deposits such as
smithing wastes will add to the understanding of medieval village life, but
will not necessarily show as upstanding earthworks.
Raventhorpe is of particular importance for the substantial nature of the
building earthworks and for the survival of early 13th century documentation
detailing the land owned by Peterborough Abbey.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Raventhorpe which are located immediately to the south west of
Raventhorpe Farm. It is sited on gently sloping ground at the foot of the west
facing Lincoln Edge scarp and was one of a series of spring line settlements.
In 1086 the Domesday Book records that part of Raventhorpe, along with
several neighbouring manors, was in the possession of St Peter's Abbey,
Peterborough. The other landholder was Asketill who had land enough for four
plough teams. The abbey's manor included 12 acres of meadow, a plough team,
five villagers and four small holders who also had a plough team. Raventhorpe
was valued at six pounds before 1066 but was reduced to a quarter of this
value by 1086. In 1216 the land owned by Peterborough Abbey, which was part of
Twigmore Grange to the south west, was conveyed to the Cistercian abbey at
Louth Park. The document recording this transaction also notes a number of
details about the area, including the sizes of common pastures and that there
was a priest at Raventhorpe. It is thought that the settlement was cleared
some time later to increase the land available for sheep which became highly
profitable in the late medieval period.
The monument includes a row of building remains along the west side of the
north-south trackway to Raventhorpe Farm. These survive as earthworks, some
with exposed stone rubble standing up to 0.7m high, and appear to represent at
least ten small buildings. An old sunken trackway runs immediately to the west
of these earthworks leading towards the farm and this cuts through some of the
building earthworks at the south end of the row. About 50m to the west of this
trackway there is a large building platform with the earthworks of a building
approximately 25m by 15m, orientated east-west. These are the remains of the
largest building within the monument and because of its orientation it has
been identified as the remains of a small chapel. A low bank 20m to the south
encloses a level area which is identified as the associated churchyard.
Further down the hill to the west there are the low earthworks of at least
three small, two and three celled buildings which are considered to be the
remains of either small medieval peasant houses or outbuildings associated
with the building remains on the east side of the monument.
The telegraph poles supporting the electricity lines that cross the monument
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.