Rabbit warren 180m north east of The Lawn


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


Ordnance survey map of Rabbit warren 180m north east of The Lawn
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Blaby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 52279 01945

Reasons for Designation

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries, which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places. The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into the underlying subsoil or bedrock. A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed garden and outbuildings. Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society; however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 - 2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also merit protection.

The remains of the warren 180m north east of The Lawn survive particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks. The site has remained largely under pasture with little disturbance, with the result that the preservation of buried deposits relating to the construction and use of the warren will be good. The remains represent a rare surviving example of the large scale adaptation of a natural feature for warrening within an area of otherwise intensive cultivation. The remains of the warren are quite well understood and will allow an insight into an important aspect of the medieval and later agricultural economy.


The monument includes the remains of a medieval rabbit warren 180m north east of The Lawn.

A series of three to four amorphous earthwork mounds situated upon a natural sandy ridge define a warren covering an area a maximum of 73m by 123m, with the long axis orientated approximately NNW-SSE. The warren reaches a maximum height of 3m in the north eastern corner. Two linear depressions divide the individual mounds. The first is roughly `T'-shaped in plan, 7m in width and runs from the centre of the southern end for approximately 50m on a NNW-SSE axis. The second is 3.5m in width and runs for 30m on an east-west axis from the north western corner of the monument.

Documentary sources indicate that the warren was situated within Leicester Forest. The forest stretched from Birstall to Earl Shilton and belonged to the Earls of Leicester before reverting back to the ownership of the Crown. A document dated to 1280 states that there were then no warrens within Lubbesthorpe, suggesting that the monument came into use after this time. A map of 1835 names the area east of The Lawn as `Old Warren', which is considered to be a clear reference to the existence of the monument, and indicates that the warren had probably fallen out of use by the start of the 19th century.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Fox, L, Russell, P, Leicester Forest, (1948)
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Central Leicestershire, (1989)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquity of the County of Leicester, (1807)
Harvey, John, (1997)
Title: Source Date: 1835 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Source Date: 1881 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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