Medieval settlement remains immediately east of The Wymeshead
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018359
Date first listed: 16-Nov-1998
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This copy shows the entry on 11-Dec-2018 at 15:22:10.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North West Leicestershire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SK 48996 26368
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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 tracks, platforms on which stood houses and barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. 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 of understanding about 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 divided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs produced long, wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. 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.
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. The tradition of warren construction 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. The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, field systems and fishponds.
The remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of Kegworth survive particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks. They remain largely undisturbed and the preservation of archaeological deposits is likely to be good. Organic remains relating to the use of the settlement are likely to survive in the area of the pond and will provide information about the environment in which it was established. The diversity of the archaeological remains compliment the existing documentary evidence and together provide a rare historical sequence for the village which will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the area.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the remains of medieval habitation representing areas of
abandonment caused by the shifting and expansion of settlement northwards to
form the present town of Kegworth and is situated immediately east of The
Wymeshead on the western bank of the River Soar.
The remains take the form of a series of earthworks and buried features principally centred upon two hollow ways or main thoroughfares through the settlement which survive as linear depressions. The first hollow way is a maximum of 10m in width, 1m in depth and runs for approximately 140m on an east-west axis before curving northwards for a further 50m to terminate at the western bank of the River Soar. The second hollow way is situated 60m north of the first and runs parallel with it for 40m before widening into a broad, rectangular depression up to 30m in width and 1m in depth. Both hollow ways appear to be orientated towards a particularly shallow section of the Soar, and are therefore thought to originally have led to a fording point over the river. Three small rectangular embanked enclosures a maximum of 20m in length and 10m in width adjoining the northern side of the southern hollow way are the remains of house platforms or crofts. Linear banks adjoining the southern edge of the hollow way and running on an approximate north-south axis form three adjacent rectangular enclosures or closes, probably delineating areas of cultivation. The western enclosure is a maximum of 50m square and overlies evidence of medieval agriculture in the form of ridge and furrow cultivation, a representative sample of which continuing south beyond the enclosure is included in the scheduling. The two enclosures immediately to the east are each up to 40m in width and 70m in length, their long axes being orientated approximately north-south. Two sub-rectangular mounds situated at the northern end of each enclosure are thought to be contemporary with the settlement remains. The largest mound, approximately 15m in length, 7m in width and 1m in height and located within the central enclosure is believed to be a medieval rabbit warren. The second mound is only 6m in length and 0.2m in height, and is thought to be a further house platform. Two other mounds flanking the southern hollow way in close proximity to the river are thought to be additional rabbit warrens. The largest of these, immediately west of the hollow way is up to 18m in length, 4m in width, 0.7m high and is surrounded by a ditch 1.5m wide. A series of faint linear ridges approximately 60m south of the warrens flanking the hollow way form several rectangular enclosures probably representing closes or paddocks. A sub-circular depression up to 25m in diameter close to the western bank of the river is believed to be an embanked pond. A linear bank running for 70m on a NNW-SSE axis from the southern side of the pond represents a later field boundary as does a similar bank running roughly parallel and situated 30m west at the foot of a natural scarp. A small sub-rectangular cut approximately 5m square and 0.3m in depth in the top of this scarp is thought to indicate the location of a further medieval structure.
Kegworth was listed as Cogeworde in the Domesday survey of 1086, and is known to have been held by Harold Godwinson prior to his coronation and subsequent death at the battle of Hastings in 1066. Following the Conquest the manor passed to Earl Hugh of Chester and was held under him by Robert. The manor remained in the hands of the Earls of Chester, through the Crown, until at least the 15th century. In 1289 a weekly market was granted to Kegworth by Edward I, and the subsequent expansion of the town appears principally to have been due to trade, its position alongside a permanent crossing over the Soar enabling it to function as a market for goods from both northern Leicestershire and southern Nottinghamshire. The importance of the crossing was recognised in 1316 by taxation levied upon all goods crossing Kegworth bridge, the funds being used to pay for its upkeep and repair.
Documentary sources record the discovery of an Anglo-Saxon linked disc-headed pin of probable 9th century date immediately south of the Hermitage during the 1914-18 war. The pin is believed to have come from a destroyed burial mound, and suggests that the area was already a focus for settlement in the early medieval period. Additional finds have included a 15th-16th century kidney dagger within the hollow way alongside the river, suggesting that occupation of the area continued for a considerable time.
All fences, feed troughs and the brick drainage culvert feeding into the river 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.
Legacy System number: 30243
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Central Leicestershire, (1984)
Farnham, G.F., Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes, 1933,
Leicestershire Museums Service, Site Summary Sheet: 42NE.AN,
RCHME, NMR Short Report: UID 315256,
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