Frisby medieval village remains


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018579

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Frisby medieval village remains
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Frisby

National Grid Reference: SK 70580 01547


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 East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised in the Middle Ages by large numbers of nucleated settlements. The sites of many of these settlements are now occupied by modern villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by earthwork remains. Most of these settlements were first documented in the 11th century, in Domesday Book. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval, others may represent much older farming landscapes. The Soar Valley and Nene Plateau local region comprises the low hill country of the Soar Valley and, to the south east, a low plateau dissected by the tributaries of the Nene and Welland. Nucleated villages and hamlets dominate the region, but gaps are found within the pattern in Rockingham Forest, in Rutland and in High Leicestershire where they are linked to the location of woodland in and before the 11th century.

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. 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. 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.

The remains of the deserted areas of the medieval settlement of Frisby survive particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks. They remain largely undisturbed with the result that the preservation of archaeological deposits is likely to be good, and these will provide an insight into the economy, development and eventual decline of the hamlet. Organic deposits relating to the use of the settlement are likely to survive in the area of the ponds 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 hamlet which will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the nature of medieval settlement in the area.


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


The monument includes the remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of Frisby, 300m east of Frisby House Farm.

The remains take the form of a series of earthworks and buried features located in relation to a hollow way which runs north east from the Frisby- Rolleston road for approximately 100m. A series of sub-rectangular agricultural enclosures or crofts of varying size are defined by linear banks and depressions immediately north of the hollow way. On the eastern side of the crofts is a pond approximately 30m in length and 12m in width marked by a semi-waterfilled rectangular depression. The pond fed into a drainage ditch on the line of the present field boundary via a small leat in its eastern corner which survives as a short linear depression. A pair of broad parallel ditches running into the north western corner of the pond would have supplied it with water. The location of a large building adjacent to the southern side of the hollow way is represented by a rectangular platform 60m by 30m. Immediately south east of the platform is an area of medieval cultivation in the form of ridge and furrow measuring approximately 100m by 50m. A sunken trackway a maximum of 7m in width runs from the hollow way on a north east axis for 130m before curving east to run into a second hollow way, 100m in length, 16m in width and aligned on a north-south axis. The second hollow way turns sharply east for 40m at its southern end to follow the contour of the hillside. A number of tofts and crofts adjacent to the northern side of the trackway are defined by a further series of small sub-rectangular enclosures and platforms. Two additional ponds are located within this area of settlement. The larger, southernmost pond consists of a dry rectangular depression 10m by 20m located at the intersection of the first hollow way and the sunken trackway.

Immediately south west of the trackway are two field boundaries comprised of parallel ditches up to 2m in width. A further trackway approximately 5m in width runs parallel with and 15m south east of the field boundaries. A rectangular embanked platform at the intersection between the second hollow way and the southernmost field boundary marks the location of a further building, whilst the presence of another structure is suggested by a platform located at the intersection of the trackway and the second hollow way.

The hamlet was recorded in the Domesday survey as Frisebi, being held by Hugh de Grentesmainell as part of the manor of Gaulby. The etymology of the name, meaning `the farm of the Frisians', suggests that the settlement had Anglo-Saxon origins. The matriculus of Bishop Welles in 1220 mentions that Gaulby church then had a chapel at Frisby dedicated to St James. Although made reference to in a will of 1532, by 1591 the chapel no longer stood. Documentary records indicate that the settlement itself had begun to decline during the 15th century. Sixteen families were recorded in the poll tax returns for 1381, ten were listed in the hay subsidy of 1524, but only eight remained in 1564. By 1831 the number of households had further reduced to just five.

All fences, feed troughs and electricity poles 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: 30247

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester
Hoskins, W G, 'Transactions of the Leics Archaeological and Historical Society' in A Short History of Galby and Frisby, , Vol. Vol 22, (1944)
Hartley, R F, (1981)
Holyoak, V, (1997)
RCHME, NMR Printout: SK 70 SW 4,

End of official listing