Medieval village including monastic college, chapel, moat, fishponds, dovecote and open field system 200m south of Manor Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Medieval village including monastic college, chapel, moat, fishponds, dovecote and open field system 200m south of Manor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Rushcliffe (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 76204 45356, SK 76493 45477

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 Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of farms out of earlier villages.

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 small enclosed paddocks. They frequently include the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. 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 for understanding 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 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 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. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. Colleges were occasionally part of medieval settlements. The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges were founded in the 14th and 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down under the Chantries Act of 1547. Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters, both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served royal free chapters. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually came to dominate their other activities. From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges existed in the early medieval and the medieval period of which 64 were chantry colleges. Colleges are very important contributors to our understanding of ecclesiastical history. The wealthier members of the village community, in addition to regulating the communal agricultural system, often maintained fishponds and dovecotes for their own private supply of meat. Both fishponds and dovecotes were an expression of wealth and status during the medieval period and later and are usually attached to monastic institutions or the main manorial complex. Most surviving examples of dovecotes were built in the period between the 14th and 17th centuries. They were generally freestanding structures, square or circular in plan and normally of brick or stone with nesting boxes built into the interior wall. They were constructed for the breeding and management of doves in order to provide a constant and sustainable supply of meat, eggs and manure. The building of fishponds began in the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. The difficulty of obtaining fresh meat in the 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 close to villages, manors or monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Archaeologically, fishponds are important for their association with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy. The earthwork and standing remains of the deserted areas of Sibthorpe medieval village are particularly well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The diversity of the archaeological remains compliment the extensive documentary evidence and together provide a rare historical sequence for the village and an insight into its wealth and importance. Taken as a whole Sibthorpe village will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the area.


The monument includes the standing, buried and earthwork remains of the deserted areas of Sibthorpe medieval village. The site is situated approximately 200m south east and south west of Manor Farm and is in two areas of protection. Sibthorpe is first documented in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded that the village was owned by at least four manors. The value of the land at that time totalled five pounds. At the beginning of the 14th century the lord of the manor was Simon Sibthorpe who lived in Hawksworth. Thomas Sibthorpe, his younger brother, was a clerk in the King's service, and instigated many changes in the village of Sibthorpe. In 1320 he built a chapel to the north of, but attached to, Sibthorpe church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St Anne but which later changed its dedication to the Blessed Virgin, St John the Baptist and St Thomas the Martyr. The chapel took the form of a northern aisle to the church, and fabric in the northern wall of the existing church does show an original arcade which is now blocked. Earthworks to the north of the church indicate the survival of the remains of the chapel beneath the ground surface. Both the north and a south aisle are recorded as being dismantled in 1662. Thomas Sibthorpe financed a permanent warden and assistant priest to perform services at the church. By 1327 much of the land in Sibthorpe and surrounding villages had come into his possession as did the advowson of the church (the authority to appoint members of the clergy). Thomas Sibthorpe established a chantry house which over time was enlarged into a college of chantry priests and became a large and important foundation. In December 1345 Edward III gave the chapel of St Mary in Sibthorpe, including the warden, chaplains, their lands and possessions, his protection. In 1399 further lands were given to the church by Thomas Sibthorpe. By this time there were eight chaplains, three clerks and a warden in the college. When the `Valor Ecclesiasticus' was drawn up in 1534 the gross value of the college was declared at thirty one pounds one shilling and 2d of which thirteen pounds six shillings and 8d came from the rectory. Surrender to the Crown of the property held by the college in Sibthorpe, Hawksworth, Flintham, Beckingham, Kneeton, Syerston, Elston, Stainton and Shelton was signed by Thomas Magnus, the warden, on 17th April 1545. The college of Sibthorpe and its lands was subsequently granted by Henry VIII in 1546 to Richard Walley, whose widow married Edward Burnell. It is documented that Burnell had a large house at Sibthorpe but by 1790 nothing of the house survived except a large dovecote and the field name `the park'. Today the dovecote is the most prominent feature of the village. The park lies to the south of the dovecote and Car Dyke. The land granted to Richard Walley was enclosed by him, but was eventually acquired by William Cavendish, Earl (and later Duke) of Newcastle who commissioned William Senior to undertake a drawing of the estate in 1629. The map covers most of the parish, is very detailed and many of the features shown still form the basis of the current village plan. Sibthorpe remains a thriving village today with modern settlement lying to the north and north west of the church. In the medieval period the village extended across fields to the east of the church and west of Church Lane. The monument survives as a series of earthworks and buried remains. The exception to this is the dovecote which remains as a standing structure to its original height. In the field to the east of the church is evidence of a sunken trackway running north to south across the field, although the northern half is less well defined. The trackway is approximately 2.5m wide and survives to a depth of 0.5m. The track leads to Car Dyke and at the point where it meets the dyke there is evidence of a coursed stone structure protruding from the western bank of the track. This has been interpreted as the foundations of a bridge which would have facilitated the crossing of the dyke. It may also have provided a through route to Top Green moat and fishponds which lie 350m further to the south west and which are the subject of a separate scheduling. Any physical links between the two sites will have been degraded when the field to the south of Car Dyke was enclosed as a park early in the post-medieval period and by later ploughing. To the east of the trackway is a large rectangular enclosure which is defined on the west and south sides by a narrow, low bank approximately 2m wide and 0.5m high. The north and east side of the enclosure is defined by a wide ditch approximately 10m wide and up to 0.75m deep. The ditch on the east side continues in a northerly direction beyond the enclosure for approximately 110m and is currently used for drainage. The ditch continues south but is broken by a modern gateway leading to a field to the east. The enclosure measures approximately 90m north to south and 73m east to west and contains a number of irregular earthworks. A series of rectangular platforms abut the trackway on the east side and mark the positions of medieval houses. The platforms are aligned east to west and are defined by low banks. The banks are created by buried remains of walls. To the west of the trackway and approximately 30m north of Car Dyke is the dovecote (Listed Grade I). The circular stone structure measures 10m in diameter at the base and tapers in towards the top and has a conical, tiled roof. It is built of limestone with single courses of brick and tile inserted at random. A low doorway provides access on the western side of the building. Inside, the walls are divided into 28 horizontal bands with each band containing 40 or 42 nesting boxes. The dovecote was probably associated with the 14th century occupation of the site, although the 17th century map does not depict it in its current position. A circular feature within the same field, but a little further to the north, may represent the former location of the dovecote, implying that it was moved at a later date. South west of the dovecote are a series of six fishponds. Two pairs of rectangular ponds aligned east to west and measuring up to 38m in length and 12m wide are divided by two smaller rectangular ponds aligned north to south. The ponds survive to a depth of 0.75m and are shown clearly on the 17th century map. The ponds are linked by shallow channels with outlet channels leading to Car Dyke. Further earthworks can be seen in the field to the east of the church. The layout of these is not clearly discernible on the ground but the earthworks do indicate that more than one phase of occupation is represented. This area was the site of college buildings and possibly the later house occupied by Edward Burnell. To the south west of the fishponds, west of Church Lane and just south of Car Dyke, is a pair of moated enclosures. The ditches were infilled in 1967 and have been ploughed ever since but still show as low earthworks on the ground and even more clearly on recent aerial photographs. The features showing on the photographs match very closely to a published earthwork survey of the moat dating to 1908. There are two separate moated platforms enclosed by one large ditch. The platform closest to the road is rectangular in shape, aligned east to west and measures approximately 23m wide and 40m long. The ditch is 10m wide on the eastern side but widens out towards the west to enclose the larger, more elaborate platform. The second platform is square in shape and measures approximately 18m by 18m. It is surrounded on all sides by a double bank and ditch system. The internal bank measures approximately 8m wide with evidence of a narrow entrance to the north west. Surrounding this is a ditch again measuring approximately 8m across. This in turn is enclosed by another, slightly wider bank, measuring approximately 10m wide with evidence of a narrow entrance just west of the north facing corner. The whole of this complex is then enclosed by the ditch surrounding and extending from the rectangular platform. It is difficult to establish what the moats were used for but remains of structures are likely to survive on the platforms beneath the plough zone. To the north of Car Dyke and to the west of Church Lane are the well preserved remains of part of the open field system. The surviving remains are visible as parts of four medieval furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow. The ridge and furrow is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S'. This shape developed over the years from the need to swing the plough team out at the end of a strip to enable it to turn and to continue ploughing in the opposite direction. In the south east corner of the same field, adjacent to Church Lane and north of Car Dyke, are at least two rectangular platforms defined by low banks. These mark the position of medieval buildings and may be the site of a mill. On the 17th century map of the village the adjacent fields are called mil close' and mil close head' but no buildings are depicted. The field names probably relate to an earlier building which was no longer standing at the time when the map was drawn. The existing church of St Peter (Listed Grade I) and grave marker stones and all modern fences, gates, playground equipment and metalled surfaces 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.

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Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 491
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 491
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 491
Barnes, P, What does an examination of Sibthorpe College tell us about reli1-12
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire, (1910)
Samuels, J, Archaeological Assesment of SM 13391 at Top Green Sibthorpe, (1993)
Thoroton, R, The Antiquities of Nottinghamshire, (1790), 326-333
Thoroton, R, The Antiquities of Nottinghamshire, (1790), 326-333
Hamilton Thompson, A, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in The Chantry certificate rolls for the county of Nottinghamshire, (1912), 108-123
Hamilton Thompson, A, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in The Chantry certificate rolls for the county of Nottinghamshire, (1912), 108-123
May, J, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Ancient Monuments in Nottinghamshire, (1967), 30
May, J, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Ancient Monuments in Nottinghamshire, (1967), 30
Roberts, E W, 'Nottinghamshire Countryside' in Sibthorpe Dovecote Nottinghamshire, , Vol. 1953, (1953), 6-8
Roberts, E W, 'Nottinghamshire Countryside - January' in Sibthorpe Dovecote, , Vol. 1953, (1953), 6-8
Darvill, T, MPP Single Monument Class Description Fishponds, (1988)
Darvill, T, MPP Single Monument Class Description Moats, (1987)
Dennison, E, MPP Single Monument Class Description - Dovecotes, (1989)
Title: Sibthorpe the Surveie theirof belonging Rt.Hon.William Earl of N Source Date: 1629 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Sibthorpe the Surveie theirof belonging Rt.Hon.William Earl of N Source Date: 1629 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Sibthorpe the Surveie theirof belonging Rt.Hon.William Earl of N Source Date: 1629 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Vertical AP 6167/7145 Sibthorpe 2nd June 1971, (1971)


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.

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