Medieval settlement remains at Shillingthorpe Park


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Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement remains at Shillingthorpe Park
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 25-May-2019 at 16:55:09.


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

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Braceborough and Wilsthorpe
National Grid Reference:
TF 07188 11394

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 settlements 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 paddocks. As the remains of organised agricultural communities, such settlements were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life in central England, 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 settlements were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges, and the resultant ridge and furrow where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs, which were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to settlement 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 medieval settlement of Shillingthorpe and its open field system survive well in the form of earthworks and buried deposits. The remains of house plots and enclosures will preserve valuable evidence for domestic and economic activities on the site, giving an insight into the lifestyle of the inhabitants. As a result of the survival of associated cultivation remains, evidence is also preserved for the interrelationship between the settlement and its open field system, and their functioning as a unit in the wider medieval landscape.


The monument includes the remains of Shillingthorpe, a small medieval settlement first recorded in the early 14th century and largely deserted by the middle of the 16th century. The remains take the form of a series of earthworks and buried deposits including associated trackways and ridge and furrow cultivation

The monument is situated on a south-facing slope on the north bank of the West Glen River. Near the centre of the monument, where the slope begins to level out, a series of low earthworks represent the remains of a small group of rectangular house plots aligned in a short east-west row. In the low-lying area immediately to the south of these features are the remains of a rectangular moated enclosure measuring approximately 45m by 55m; the remains of three further ditched enclosures, each approximately 25m by 30m, lie to the west of it.

The medieval settlement is adjoined on the west and north by its associated fields. In the western part of the monument are the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation, representing the surviving parts of two furlongs separated by a broad hollow way which runs east-west towards the house plots. On the east side of the north western furlong is a further hollow way, running north-south, separating it from another furlong which adjoins the house plots on the north side. In the northern part of the monument are two surviving parts of another furlong. Along the eastern edge of the monument is a linear bank and ditch representing a field boundary which formerly separated these surviving areas of ridge and furrow cultivation from further furlongs to the east, now levelled.

Shillingthorpe was deserted in the early post-medieval period and the area of the settlement, together with adjacent fields, was later emparked in connection with the construction of Shillingthorpe Hall immediately to the north, now demolished. At that time a raised carriageway was constructed across the eastern part of the monument, roughly parallel with the earlier field boundary; a short track, also raised, which crosses the field boundary about halfway along the eastern edge of the monument, formerly gave access to a pair of cottages which stood to the east of it but have now been destroyed. Also of later date is a trackway which runs north-westward across the medieval fields towards the grounds of the hall.

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.

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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.

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