Medieval settlement, watermill and cultivation remains, East Torrington


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018903

Date first listed: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement, watermill and cultivation remains, East Torrington
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 03:58:27.


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

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Legsby

National Grid Reference: TF 14577 83549, TF 14824 83359


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 Lincolnshire Scarp and Vale sub-Province of the Central Province, which comprises a succession of scarps and vales in which clay vales with alluvial deposits and a chalk ridge, together with associated glacial deposits, form the structural framework of the landscape. There is a very dense scatter of nucleated settlements, many of which are situated in lines along favoured scarp-foot and dip-slope locations. Large numbers of medieval village sites now lie wholly or partially deserted. Densities of dispersed farmsteads are very low. The Scarp and Vale Country local region is divided by the Lincoln Edge from the broad Vale of Trent to the west. Chains of ancient village settlements, some now deserted, are characteristic of the region. They occur where soils change and springs appear. Densities of dispersed farmsteads are uniformly low.

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 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. Villages 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 medieval village at East Torrington, and the remains of its open field system, survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. As a result of detailed archaeological survey and historical research they are quite well understood. The remains of house plots and hollow ways will preserve valuable evidence for domestic and economic activities on the site, giving an insight into the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the way in which the settlement evolved through the medieval, post-medieval and early modern periods. The association of the village remains with those of its open fields and watermill will also preserve evidence for the economy of the village and its place in the wider medieval landscape.


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


The monument includes the remains of the medieval village of East Torrington, together with those of its associated fields and watermill complex. The settlement had become established by the late 11th century when there were at least 12 households in existence. The population gradually increased through the Middle Ages but declined after the later 17th century when the open fields were enclosed. By the mid-19th century, when the church and manor house were rebuilt, most of the village had been abandoned. The church and churchyard are in ecclesiastical use and are therefore not included in the scheduling; the area of the manor house and farmyard is also not included.

The remains take the form of a series of earthworks extending to the north, west and south of the present church and manor at East Torrington. Running westward from the north side of the churchyard is a broad depression up to 1m in depth, representing the remains of the principal east-west road through the village; extending from the north side of this hollow way are a series of ditched enclosures representing the remains of house plots and animal enclosures. This series of earthworks, which is bounded on the north by a linear depression marking a back lane of the village, together with the church and manor sites to the south of the main hollow way, is believed to represent the core of the early settlement. Pottery fragments found in this area suggest that it may overlie remains of Roman date, and they are in turn partly overlain by a modern pond and raised trackway.

Adjacent to the north west of these settlement remains is an area of ridge and furrow cultivation, surviving up to 0.5m in height, representing a furlong of the village's formerly extensive open fields. Immediately to the east of the surviving furlong, in the north eastern part of the monument, are two large ditched enclosures, the northernmost of which overlies earlier ridge and furrow remains. These enclosures, together with those at the western end of the village, are believed to indicate the expansion of the settlement over parts of the earlier fields, probably in the later Middle Ages.

At the northern edge of the monument, adjacent to the west-flowing stream, is a series of substantial earthworks representing the remains of a watermill complex. In the north eastern corner of the monument are the remains of a large embanked pond of rectangular shape, measuring approximately 100m by 20m. This pond is believed to have been constructed in the medieval period on the former course of the stream, where it served to build up a head of water to power a mill. The buried remains of the watermill are believed to be situated in the dam at the western end of the pond, where a depression marks the position of the wheelpit. Extending westward from the site of the mill is a linear channel representing an outlet leat, which, at the northwestern corner of the monument, rejoins the earlier course of stream which is represented here by the remains an irregular channel. The outlet leat is in turn joined by a bypass leat which runs northwestwards from the north side of the pond, where a sluice would have been situated in order to control the water level within the pond. The banks around the pond have been partly breached in post- medieval and modern times in association with drainage and extraction activities.

On the south side of the main hollow way, immediately to the west of the churchyard, are further earthwork remains of the village including a wet depression marking a former pond. Extending southwards and eastwards from the churchyard the earthworks include the remains of house plots which were occupied in post-medieval and early modern times. Those in the south eastern part of the monument, which include the surviving parts of the medieval manorial enclosure, are in a separate area of protection. The remainder of the manor site has been altered by the construction of the present house, farmyard and buildings and is not therefore included in the scheduling.

All fences and gates 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 22755

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing