Greetwell medieval village, cultivation and post-medieval garden remains


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


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

West Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 01391 71489, TF 01416 71887

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. The Scarp and Vale Country local region is divided by the Lincoln Edge from the broad Vale of Trent to the west. Chains of ancient village settlements, some now deserted, are characteristic of the region. They occur where soils change and springs appear. Densities of dispersed farmsteads are uniformly 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 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. 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 village at Greetwell survive well as a series of earthworks and underlying buried deposits. As a result of detailed archaeological survey and historical research they are quite well understood. The remains of house plots and hollow ways will preserve valuable evidence for domestic and economic activities on the site, giving an insight into the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the way in which the settlement evolved through the medieval, post-medieval and early modern periods, including the establishment of gardens and a park. The association of the village remains with those of its open fields preserves evidence for the economy of the village and its place in the wider medieval landscape.


The monument includes the earthworks remains of the village and the post- medieval gardens which partly overlay it, together with the surviving parts of the medieval fields which formerly surrounded the village. The medieval settlement of Greetwell was established before the late 11th century. The size of the village is thought to have remained fairly constant through most of the medieval period, at about 20-30 households, until the early 15th century when it had declined to ten. In 1475 the manor was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln and the population subsequently increased. By 1603, when the Dallison family were established as tenants at Greetwell Hall, the population appears to have numbered over 100; however, it had declined again by the mid- 17th century when the Dallisons were no longer resident and much of the parish had been enclosed. In the mid-19th century only four households are recorded; at this time the railway was cut through the site and the area to the south of it was planted as a park.

The monument is in two areas of protection separated by the railway line. To the south of the railway is an extensive area of earthworks including, in its north eastern part, a group of substantial ditched enclosures terraced into the top of the slope. Within these enclosures are the earth-covered remains of former houses and outbuildings, possibly including those of the medieval manor house of Greetwell. The enclosures are grouped around a series of hollow ways representing former village streets. The principal hollow way extends southwards down the hill through an area of more regular terraced enclosures, thought to represent a part of the village which was overlain by gardens associated with Greetwell Hall in the late 16th or early 17th century. A depression at the southern end of the main hollow way, and another above it near the eastern boundary of the monument, represent the remains of small quarries dating from the mid-19th century. From the lower pit the course of the hollow way continues southwards as a raised causeway, extending from the natural scarp at the bottom of the hill across the remains of a broad embanked enclosure which was artificially raised above the floodplain of the River Witham, probably for cultivation or animal enclosure. In early modern times the causeway gave access to a ferry across the river.

Immediately to the south of All Saints Church are the earth-covered remains of a large walled enclosure, with a trackway running along its western side; the buried remains of further enclosures extend onto the low-lying area to the south. In the southern part of the large enclosure are the buried foundations of a large rectangular stone building believed to represent one of two barns recorded in 1650 in an area known as Hall Garth. The enclosure is associated with Greetwell Hall, which was established in the late 16th century, probably on the site of an earlier vicarage. The area of the hall, together with its present gardens and outbuildings, is not known to include archaeological remains of national importance and is totally excluded from the scheduling. The church and churchyard of All Saints are in ecclesiastical use and are also totally excluded from the scheduling.

The course of the village's principal hollow way continues on the north side of the railway line, where it is represented by a linear depression extending northwards into the area of the village's former open fields. On the south and west sides of the hollow way is a series of levelled, ditched enclosures representing further remains of house plots and animal enclosures. Some of these features partly overlie the remains of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation, indicating a later medieval or post-medieval expansion of the village onto former fields. Adjacent to the north and east of the settlement remains is an area of surviving ridge and furrow; further remains of ridge and furrow extend to the north west and south west of Greetwell Hall. These areas represent the only surviving remains of the formerly extensive open fields which were established around the village in the medieval period.

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.

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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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