Petlinge medieval settlement and manorial garden remains 90m west and 160m south east of All Saints' Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017209

Date first listed: 12-Jan-2000


Ordnance survey map of Petlinge medieval settlement and manorial garden remains 90m west and 160m south east of All Saints' Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Peatling Magna

National Grid Reference: SP 59387 92476, SP 59614 92370


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 past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Inner Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by large numbers of nucleated settlements, both surviving and deserted, many of which are thought to have been established in Anglo-Saxon times. Most of the sub-Province's thinly scattered dispersed settlements were created in post-medieval times, but some of the local regions are characterised by higher proportions of dispersed dwellings and hamlets, which probably mark the patchy survival of older landscapes. The Stour-Avon-Soar Clay Vales local region is dominated by village and hamlet settlements. It was once characterised by large townfields under communal cultivation, traces which survive as ridge and furrow earthworks. It contains the sites of many depopulated villages and hamlets, perhaps up to one third of the total number of such settlements which existed in the Middle Ages.

Medieval villages were the organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans vary 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. 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.

Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were divided 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 defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass baulks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape.

The building of fishponds began in the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. The difficulty in obtaining fresh meat in winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Most fishponds were located next to villages, manors or monasteries.

Petlinge medieval settlement and manorial garden remains 90m west and 160m south east of All Saints' Church survive particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks and buried deposits. The gardens and areas of settlement have remained largely undisturbed since their abandonment with the result that the survival of archaeological deposits relating to their occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain information about the dating, layout and status of the medieval village. In addition, waterlogging in the area of the fishponds suggests a high potential for the survival of organic remains which will provide a useful insight into the economy of the site, and the environment in which it was constructed. Together with contemporary documents relating to the village and manor house, this will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind the development, decline and eventual abandonment of areas of the settlement.


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


The monument includes medieval manorial gardens, fishponds and adjacent settlement remains, which are in two separate areas of protection, situated 90m west and 160m south east of All Saints' Church. Further areas of medieval settlement approximately 400m to the north are the subject of a separate scheduling. Part of Petlinge (now known as Peatling Magna) between the two monuments is still inhabited.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the village of Petlinge was held by Godwin the priest, Robert de Buci and Countess Judith. Countess Judith, sister of William the Conqueror inherited the land from her husband, Earl Waltheof, who had held it prior to the Norman Conquest but was beheaded in 1075 for treason. There were at least two manors within the village; one was held by the de Ferrers family from at least 1343 until 1445, when it passed through marriage to the Greys of Groby. The other was held by the Abbot of St Ebrulph in Normandy from at least 1216 until 1414 when it was seized by the Crown and subsequently given to the Carthusian priory of Shene in Surrey. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in 1547 the manor was granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Villers and Nicholas Beaumont, eventually reverting to John Jervis. Following the seizure of the manor by Elizabeth I, it was restored to the Jervis family in 1568 and remained in their ownership until the end of the 18th century. A description of Manor Farm dated to 1790 makes clear reference to moated grounds, the sites of gardens and fishponds. In 1528 35 families were recorded in Peatling Magna, the number increasing to 62 by 1564, but declining back again to 32 by 1801. Limited excavations within the village in 1982 recovered sherds of 13th to 14th century pottery.

In the first area of protection immediately east of Manor Farm the remains of the formal gardens of the manor house are defined by a complex series of fishponds and drainage features, which are principally located in relation to a pair of parallel channels approximately 120m in length and orientated on a WNW-ESE axis. The channels feed into a large rectangular embanked pond measuring a maximum of 80m north to south, and 55m east to west, which contains a small rectangular island. A short leat also connects the southern channel to the northern side of a second embanked pond approximately 45m square, now dry. Divisions within the base of the pond are visible as low mounds. A broad drainage ditch runs from the south western corner of the pond for 130m before turning sharply ESE to follow the modern field boundary down the hillside to a third pond, now dry, situated in the south eastern corner of the field, which ran parallel with a stream and whose western side was defined by a low linear bank. The gardens were constructed within an area of existing medieval ridge and furrow agriculture.

In the second area of protection, approximately 250m to the west of the first, the remains include house platforms, trackways and enclosures representing areas of abandonment caused by the contraction of the village. The location of houses adjacent to the southern side of Church Lane are indicated by a series of low amorphous mounds on a rectangular platform which measures approximately 90m east to west and 50m north to south. A series of boundaries and short lengths of trackway are defined by faint parallel banks and ditches which run east to west across the platform, and a trackway follows its southern edge. A further series of boundaries, probably denoting areas of habitation, are visible immediately south of the platform.

All fences, cattle grids and footbridges 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: 30257

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1790)
Farnham, G., Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes, 1935,
Hartley, R F, (1981)
Leicestershire County Council, SP 59 SE AB,
RCHME, NMR Printout: SP 59 SE 14,
RCHME, NMR Printout: SP 59 SE 14,

End of official listing