Gumley medieval settlement remains and field systems, 620m south east of the Church of St Helen


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017211

Date first listed: 21-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Gumley medieval settlement remains and field systems, 620m south east of the Church of St Helen
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 10:01:07.


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

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Gumley

National Grid Reference: SP 68546 89991


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 East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised in the Middle Ages by large numbers of nucleated settlements. The sites of many of these settlements are now occupied by modern villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by earthwork remains. Most of these settlements were first documented in the 11th century, in Domesday Book. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval, others may represent much older farming landscapes. The Soar Valley and Nene Plateau local region comprises the low hill country of the Soar Valley and, to the south east, a low plateau dissected by the tributaries of the Nene and Welland. Nucleated villages and hamlets dominate the region, but gaps are found within the pattern in Rockingham Forest, in Rutland and in High Leicestershire where they are linked to the location of woodland in and before the 11th century.

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.

Gumley medieval and later settlement remains and the adjoining field systems 620m south east of the Church of St Helen survive particularly well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The areas of settlement have remained largely undisturbed since their abandonment and 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 economy of the settlement. Together with contemporary documents relating to the village, this will provide a good opportunity to understand the relationship between settlement and agriculture, and the mechanisms behind the development, decline and eventual contraction of the village.


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


The monument includes medieval settlement remains of Gumley and associated field systems, and is situated 620m south east of the Church of St Helen.

A second area of the settlement approximately 1km to the west is the subject of a separate scheduling. Part of the village between the two monuments is still inhabited.

The settlement remains are orientated along a hollow way which originally represented a main thoroughfare through the settlement. The hollow way survives as a linear depression a maximum of 10m in width and 0.8m in depth which runs on an east-west axis for approximately 220m before turning sharply north east. A second section of hollow way curves from its southern side before looping back to rejoin it. The location of a series of buildings adjacent to the northern side of the main hollow way are marked by house platforms which are visible as low rectangular embanked mounds. An area of cobbling approximately 200m to the south west denotes the location of further structures alongside a trackway leading onto the southern loop of the hollow way. Gardens and paddocks associated with earlier buildings along the modern Main Street are represented by a series of embanked rectangular strip enclosures varying between 50m and 120m in length and 30m in width, the long axes of which are orientated north east-south west. Immediately to the north and east of the enclosures is an extensive medieval agricultural landscape characterised by well defined ridge and furrow cultivation remains. The fields are aligned on at least four different orientations and separated by headlands at the end of each furlong. The fields are further sub-divided into sections by evenly spaced baulks which run parallel to the strips.

The settlement of Gumley, or Godmundesleach in its earliest recorded form, has a long documented history. Charters are known to have been signed here by the Mercian kings Ethelbald in AD 749 and Offa in AD 772 and 779. At the time of Edward the Confessor the village had been divided into two lordships. One of these contained 20 acres of meadow and was owned jointly by three Saxon thanes. Following the Norman Conquest it passed to Countess Judith, under whom it was held by Robert de Buci. The second lordship of eight acres was held by Robert de Veci, under whom it was worked by Goisfrid. In 1421 the two manors came into the possession of John Griffin, remaining in the hands of his descendants until at least the 19th century. An estate map dated to 1852 clearly depicts the existence of buildings and a trackway adjacent to the southern loop of the hollow way at this time. The main section of hollow way to the north and the buildings associated with it had already been abandoned by this point, and represent one of the village's original main thoroughfares which became disused following the contraction of the settlement in the later medieval period.

All fences, gates, feed troughs, cattle grids and the modern surfaces of all paths and trackways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

An area 80m by 25m in the northern half of the monument, which is currently in use as a sewage works for the village, is totally excluded from the scheduling.

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: 30262

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Liddle, P, Leicestershire Archaeology: The Present State of Knowledge, (1982)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1798)
Hartley, R F,
Title: Lands of Sir Wm. Edward Craddock Hartopp Bart. Source Date: 1852 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing