Dunsby medieval village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018395

Date first listed: 24-Oct-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-1998


Ordnance survey map of Dunsby medieval village
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

County: Lincolnshire

District: North Kesteven (District Authority)

Parish: Brauncewell

National Grid Reference: TF 04008 51343


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. The Lincoln Edge local region comprises a long, narrow limestone ridge, flat- topped and running north to south. Chains of medieval village settlement sites, some deserted and some still occupied in whole or part, are found often at intervals of about 1.5km. They line the foot of the scarp to the west and the dip-slope to the east.

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 included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included 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 of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

The remains of the medieval village of Dunsby survive well in the form of a substantial series of earthworks. The remains of buildings and enclosures have been little altered since they were abandoned, with the result that underlying archaeological deposits will survive relatively intact. Evidence for domestic, social and agricultural activites on the site will therefore be preserved. Artefactual and ecofactual remains will provide a valuable insight into the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the appearance of the landscape in which they lived, together with evidence for the establishment, development and gradual depopulation of the settlement throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods.


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


The monument includes the remains of Dunsby, a medieval settlement established before the late 11th century and largely deserted by the late 16th century. First recorded in the Domesday Book, Dunsby developed as a nucleated settlement from the 11th to the 13th centuries and thereafter became gradually depopulated. At one time a possession of the Knights Hospitaller, the manor was purchased after the Dissolution of the monasteries by Robert Carre of Sleaford who evicted the remaining tenants and turned the land over to sheep rearing. Then called `Cold Dunsby', most of the buildings, including the church, were demolished, although the manor house continued to be occupied by members of the Carre and Death families until the Civil War. After this date the standing ruins were dismantled. The remains of the settlement now take the form of earthworks and buried archaeological deposits.

The remains of the settlement of Dunsby occupy a south-facing slope on the limestone heath south of Lincoln. The earthwork and buried remains of dwellings and associated buildings lie in the western part of the monument where a series of earth covered banks, up to 1m in height and containing the remains of stone walls, delineate a group of rectangular enclosures. Within these enclosures in the north western part of the monument are the remains of small buildings, thought to represent dwellings and outbuildings. These features are now separated from the central part of the monument by a trackway which crosses the monument on an east-west alignment, passing through the northern part of a square enclosure which is believed to represent a yard or garden. On the south and east sides of this enclosure are substantial earth covered building remains standing up to 1.8m in height; these are believed to include the remains of the manor house which was occupied until the mid-17th century. The remains of the Church of St Andrew, known from documentary sources, may be located on the south side of the enclosure. In the northern part of the enclosure are the remains of a row of small buildings believed to represent service buildings associated with the manor house; the trackway which now passes in front of them may therefore be seen to follow the course of the former entrance to the manor house complex. Further building remains in the centre of the monument, immediately to the south east of the principal buildings, may represent the remains of an associated yard and outbuildings.

Adjacent to the east of the area of building remains are two large rectangular enclosures delineated by earthen banks. The enclosure in the north eastern part of the monument is bounded on the north by a raised bank about 6m wide, on the east by a stone-filled bank 4m wide, and on the west by the earth covered remains of a stone wall; the remains of another stone wall separate it on the south from the second enclosure, which immediately adjoins the remains of the manor house and is bounded on the south by a low earthen bank. Both enclosures are believed to have originated in the medieval period as areas of cultivation or paddocks which were reused in the 16th and 17th centuries within the gardens of the manor house.

In the southern part of the monument the ground slopes steeply to the south. Running down the slope from the area of building remains is a linear ditch, 0.5m in depth, which terminates in an oval pond. On the eastern side of this channel, which is now dry, are the earthwork remains of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation, and to the west is a further enclosure including a raised rectangular earthwork which is also thought to be associated with the gardens of the manor house. To the south of the pond is a broad, shallow depression running approximately east-west, representing a former water course. On the south side of the depression are further remains of ridge and furrow cultivation associated with the medieval settlement.

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: 22738

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing