Medieval village earthworks, fishponds and mill leat at Stonton Wyville


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017616

Date first listed: 05-Feb-1993


Ordnance survey map of Medieval village earthworks, fishponds and mill leat at Stonton Wyville
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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: Stonton Wyville

National Grid Reference: SP 73562 94749, SP 73563 95299


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

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community primarily devoted to farming, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community as well as acting as the focus of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval villages are recorded nationally. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.

Frequently other monument types may be associated with a village, these may include fishponds, watermills and associated village closes which together sometimes form an extensive medieval complex. One of the important elements of this are fishponds which often provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

The village earthworks of Stonton Wyville, together with an extensive complex of further elements, including the fishponds and mill leat, survive in good condition and represent an excellent example of a shrunken medieval settlement. Although part of the village has continued in use to the modern day, with consequent disturbance to the earlier remains, the two areas of the scheduling comprise parts on the north and south of the complex which, importantly, include house plots and gardens, a complex of fishponds clearly indicating large scale fish farming and which will provide information on the water management system. The fishponds are extremely well preserved and are amongst the best examples in the country. Together, the various features provide significant evidence of changing emphasis in the patterns of economic activity of settlements in the medieval landscape.


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


The present village of Stonton Wyville is much smaller than its medieval precursor. Remains of this larger medieval village survive as visible earthworks to the north and south of the modern settlement and are included in this monument within two separate areas.

The first area is situated on the northern side of the village and extends for more than 200m to the north. Its most visible feature is a deep hollow way which formed the main street through the village. In the middle of this area this hollow way divides into two, one branch continuing north to meet with a road still in use while the other branch runs off to the east. These hollow ways would have provided access through the village and into its surrounding fields. Within this area the hollow ways are flanked by earthwork banks defining small paddocks and garden plots belonging to the village, particularly within a rectangular area measuring approximately 80 x 50m on the western side of the hollow way. Beyond this area, but not included in the scheduling are areas of ridge and furrow cultivation, the medieval open fields of the village.

The second area extends for over 300m to the south of the present village adjacent to the medieval manor house and church. In the north of this area lies a complex of dry fishponds which include two large rectangular ponds measuring 125 x 20m and 100 x 16m respectively, between which lie three smaller square ponds, that at the south-west end having a square central island. The size and complexity of these ponds indicate that fish breeding was a major concern in this village. The two large ponds would have been for large growing fish, the smaller ponds for breeding. The island within one of the small ponds would have produced a secure location, perhaps used for breeding fowl or other animals requiring protection from predators. To the south-east of the fishponds lie further earthwork remains of the village arranged to front onto the modern road which preserves the medieval access road through the village. Adjacent to the road are faint earthwork remains of building platforms and garden enclosures along with two small circular mounds surviving to approximately 0.5m high which are interpreted as windmill mounds.

Immediately behind these remains is a large enclosed paddock measuring 190 x 80m defined by a bank 1m high and a ditch 4m wide. The enclosure is sub-divided by a ditch, the larger southern part showing internal evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation. To the south-west lies an embanked mill leat which leads to a former watermill site, now occupied by Mill Farm. A hollow way originally ran from the mill to the village access road. Some of the hollow way does not survive well and is not included in the scheduling. A further enclosure to the south of this contains two further windmill mounds of similar dimensions to those to the north.

Little is known about the history of the village other than that the major family, the Brudnells, have held the lordship of the manor from the medieval period down to the present day. Many of the family remains are buried in the 13th century church located in the centre of the village.

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: 17050

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume I, (1907), 274
Pevsner, N, Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (1984), 397-8

End of official listing