Apley medieval settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016981

Date first listed: 16-Dec-1999


Ordnance survey map of Apley medieval settlement
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This copy shows the entry on 11-Dec-2018 at 07:17:27.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Apley

National Grid Reference: TF 10830 74920, TF 10916 75037


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

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 Lincolnshire Scarp and Vale sub-Province of the Central Province, which comprises a succession of scarps and vales in which clay vales with alluvial deposits and a chalk ridge, together with associated glacial deposits, form the structural framework of the landscape. There is a very dense scatter of nucleated settlements, many of which are situated in lines along favoured scarp-foot and dip-slope locations. Large numbers of medieval village sites now lie wholly or partially deserted. Densities of dispersed farmsteads are very low.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when 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 small enclosed 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. Villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life in central England, 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.

Medieval settlements were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs, which were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to settlement earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape.

The remains of the medieval settlement of Apley, including those of a monastic manor or grange and associated ridge and furrow cultivation, survive well as a series of substantial earthworks and associated buried deposits. As a result of detailed archaeological survey and historical research they are quite well understood. Buried building remains, including the foundations of the medieval church, will preserve valuable evidence for domestic, economic and religious activity in the settlement, giving an insight into the lifestyle of the inhabitants. The remains of the monastic manor or grange will contribute to our understanding of the way in which medieval monastic holdings functioned as components of the local and regional community. The association of the village remains with those of its open fields will also preserve evidence for the economy of the settlement and its place in the wider medieval landscape.


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


The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Apley, a small hamlet established by the late 11th century. After the foundation of Stainfield Priory in the mid-12th century the settlement was granted to the nunnery and managed as a monastic manor or grange. Documentary references to a priest at Apley occur from the early 13th century onwards. The population of the settlement, which remained low throughout the medieval period, declined after the Dissolution when `Apley Grange' was granted with the rest of the Stainfield Priory estate to Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who enclosed large areas of land for sheep pasture. The medieval church at Apley remained standing until the beginning of the 18th century; the present St Andrew's Church, which stands on an adjacent site and is not included in the scheduling, was constructed in 1871. The remains of the medieval settlement of Apley and the surviving parts of its open fields are visible as earthworks with associated buried remains and lie in two separate areas of protection.

About 50m to the south of the present St Andrew's Church is a raised mound about 30m square and 1m high representing the site of the medieval church and churchyard at Apley. The buried foundations of the church are preserved within the mound.

About 150m to the west of the church site is an area of earthworks, including a block of rectangular ditched enclosures which are raised above the surrounding ground level. This block is bounded on the south by a deep hollow way, part of which has later been redug to create a pond, on the west by a ditch, and on the north and east by less substantial hollow ways. These enclosures are believed to represent paddocks and gardens of the monastic manor or grange at Apley, which was established on part of the site of the earlier hamlet after the mid-12th century. Adjacent to the north side of this block are the remains of a hollow way extending northwards, together with part of a roadside enclosure in which dwellings were formerly located. Adjacent to the north west, south and south east of the grange are the remains of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation. To the south the ridge and furrow cultivation lies within a series of larger ditched enclosures which are also thought to be associated with the monastic manor or grange. A group of narrow enclosures adjacent to the main hollow way may represent earlier settlement enclosures later incorporated into the adjacent complex. The cultivation remains, which extend both west and south of Apley Manor, represent the only surviving parts of the large open fields which once surrounded the settlement.

All gravestones, fences, gates and modern hard standing 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: 22764

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing