Lubbesthorpe medieval settlement remains at Abbey Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Lubbesthorpe medieval settlement remains at Abbey Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 13:06:37.


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

Blaby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 54212 01170

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.

Lubbesthorpe medieval settlement remains at Abbey Farm survive well as a series of substantial earthworks and buried deposits. The 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 hamlet. In addition, waterlogging in the area of the pond adjacent to the stream 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 settlement, this will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind the development, decline and eventual abandonment of the hamlet.


The monument includes the remains of the medieval settlement of Lubbesthorpe and a sample of its adjacent field systems at Abbey Farm.

The remains take the form of earthworks and buried features which represent areas of abandonment caused by the contraction and eventual desertion of the settlement. A series of between 12 and 14 building platforms in the area south of the present Lubbesthorpe bridle road are defined by low sub-rectangular mounds, with short boundaries and trackways consisting of linear depressions and ridges visible between them. The house platforms at the eastern and western sides of the settlement are abutted by evidence of medieval ridge and furrow agricultural remains. The fields are aligned on an approximately north to south axis and have broader parallel ditches dividing them into groups and defining their northern terminals. Up to five terraced rectilinear enclosures or paddocks identified on aerial photographs immediately south of the stream have been obscured by soil tipping. The enclosures were a maximum of 100m in length and 50m in width with their long axes orientated approximately north west to south east. A pond and further building platforms situated between the enclosures have similarly been obscured, but all of these features survive as buried deposits.

Archaeological evaluations north and north east of Abbey Farm in 1975 and 1982 in advance of pipeline construction revealed evidence of medieval settlement in the form of stone building foundations, post holes and large quantities of pottery dated to between the 13th and 16th centuries.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the settlement of Lubestorp had six ploughlands and five oxgangs which were valued at four pounds and were held by Pagen under William Peverel. In 1253 the manor of Lobesthorp was granted to William de Cantilupe, passing through marriage to the la Zouch family, and in 1302 Roger la Zouch was granted a chapel dedicated to St Peter. During the reign of Henry VIII Sir Richard Sacheverell purchased the manor for 1300 marks, which was inherited in 1534 by his grandson Francis Lord Hastings. Hastings, later Earl of Huntingdon built `a very fair and gallant house', which was sold in 1615 to Sir George Manners of Haddon. An account dated to 1807 says `the old chapel has long been desecrated, and very few remains of that or the manor house are now to be seen, though some persons yet living remember the walls of the chapel standing, and also the manor-house being inhabited by three or four families. All the ruins have lately been taken away to mend the roads with, except one small fragment of a wall, and a barn is built upon the site of the chapel'.

All fences, feed troughs, cattle grids, walls and the modern surfaces of all paths and trackways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Central Leicestershire, (1989)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquity of the County of Leicester, (1807)
Farnham, G., Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes, 1935,
Leicestershire County Council, SK 50 SW H,
RCHME, NMR Printout: SK 50 SW 4,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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