Rabbit warren on Warren Hills


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018001

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1998


Ordnance survey map of Rabbit warren on Warren Hills
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 10:38:50.


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

County: Leicestershire

District: North West Leicestershire (District Authority)

County: Leicestershire

District: North West Leicestershire (District Authority)

Parish: Charley

National Grid Reference: SK 45694 15236, SK 45771 15214, SK 45840 15185, SK 45893 15109, SK 45911 15052, SK 45918 14975, SK 45956 15028, SK 45998 14990, SK 46013 15066


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

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 rabbit warren on Warren Hills survives particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks. The structure of the mounds and the enclosure remain largely undisturbed with the result that the preservation of buried deposits relating to their construction and use will be good. In addition, the waterlogged nature of many of the ditches surrounding the pillow mounds will provide a high potential for the survival of organic remains containing environmental evidence relating to their period of use. As a result of the survival of both historical documentation relating to the sites and subsequent archaeological survey, the remains are quite well understood and will provide a good opportunity for understanding the nature and function of purpose-built warrens.


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


The monument consists of earthworks defining eight pillow mounds of linear form and an associated sub-circular enclosure. The monument is located on the northern slopes and summit of Warren Hills. The four mounds on the lower north western slopes are orientated between the north west-south east and north-south. Those around the summit are orientated between the east-west and south west-north east. The pillow mounds are sub-rectangular in plan and vary in size between 15m and 23m in length, 7m and 10m in width and 0.7m to 1.5m in height. All are surrounded by an external ditch up to a maximum of 1.5m in width and up to 0.4m in depth. The enclosure consists of a low stony bank up to 2.5m in width and 0.2m in height enclosing a sub-circular area a maximum of 27m in diameter. A gap in the northern side of the bank up to 1.5m in width is considered to represent the original entrance. The enclosure is thought to have been for the use of the warrener, probably containing a structure for the storage of equipment.

Documentary sources indicate that the warren was located within the manor of Whitwick, the area being referred to from as early as 1754 on maps as Warren Hill. An additional document dated to 1800 makes reference to a dispute in 1748, at which point there were described as being five major warrens in the area, one of which belonged to the Earl of Huntingdon. Since the manor of Whitwick is known to have been granted in trust for Henry, Earl of Huntingdon by James I in around 1612, it is therefore considered likely that the warren on Warren Hills was that of the Earl and his descendents.

All walls and the surfaces of pathways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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: 30241

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Farnham, G F, Charnwood Forest and its Historians and the Charnwood Manors, (1930)
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of North-West Leicestershire, (1984)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1800)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1800)
Hurst, A.J.K., 1:1000 Survey, (1979)
Hurst, A.J.K., 1:1000, (1979)
Hurst, A.J.K., 1:2500 Survey, (1979)
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 41 NE.P, 41 SE.AD,
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 41 NE.P, 41 SE.AD,
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 41 NE.P, 41 SE.AD,
Liddle, P, (1997)
Title: Source Date: 1754 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Source Date: 1777 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Whylde, Thomas, (1754)

End of official listing