Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Bardney Abbey: remains of a Benedictine monastery, fishponds, post-medieval house and formal gardens

A Scheduled Monument in Bardney, Lincolnshire

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 53.221 / 53°13'15"N

Longitude: -0.3337 / 0°20'1"W

OS Eastings: 511347.938104

OS Northings: 370628.106335

OS Grid: TF113706

Mapcode National: GBR GPJ.0GN

Mapcode Global: WHGJ8.V98J

Entry Name: Bardney Abbey: remains of a Benedictine monastery, fishponds, post-medieval house and formal gardens

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1949

Last Amended: 15 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008315

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22619

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Bardney

Built-Up Area: Bardney

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Bardney St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of Bardney Abbey, a Benedictine monastery
traditionally founded in the late seventh century by King AEthelred and Queen
Osthryd of Mercia. It was a prominent Anglo-Saxon establishment and pilgrimage
centre where the relics of Osthryd's uncle, St Oswald, King of Northumbria,
were enshrined. After Osthryd's death in AD 697 AEthelred retired to Bardney
and in AD 704 is recorded as abbot. The monastery was destroyed by the Danes
in the late ninth century, and in the early tenth century the relics of St
Oswald were removed to Gloucester. After the Conquest the property was granted
to King William's nephew, Gilbert de Ghent, who in 1087 refounded the
monastery as a dependent priory of the abbey of Charroux in France. Less than
30 years later it became an independent abbey with further gifts from
Gilbert's son Walter. In the late 14th century there were about 20 monks at
Bardney, declining to 13 at the time of the Dissolution in 1538. The property
subsequently passed to Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who created for himself a secular
house and garden on the site. The house was ruined during the 17th century,
and the site has since been used largely for pasture. The monument includes
the whole of the precinct of the later medieval abbey, partly overlain by
traces of post-medieval activity including a house and formal gardens, and an
area of adjacent fishponds.

The monument is situated approximately one mile north of the village of
Bardney and less than half a mile to the east of the old River Witham. The
remains take the form of a series of earthworks occupying a pasture field to
the north of Abbey Farm, known as Abbey Garth. At the highest part of the
site, near the centre of the monument, is a fenced area enclosing the
earth-covered remains of the abbey church, cloister and associated buildings.
This area was partially excavated in 1909-13 and the buildings found to stand
to a height of up to 2m below modern ground level. In the northern part of the
enclosure are the remains of the abbey church, a cruciform building
approximately 73m long and 18m wide with an aisled nave, transepts, aisled
choir and square east end. The church floor is paved with stone flags and
grave slabs. Adjoining the church to the south are the remains of the
cloister, a rectangular enclosure approximately 30m by 28m. Around the edges
of the cloister are the remains of a covered passage with an open arcade
surrounded by ranges of rectangular buildings. Those on the east side of the
cloister included the treasury, chapter house and dormitory, with rere-dorter
attached to the south; in the south range was the refectory; and on the west
stood the abbey cellar and abbot's lodging, with kitchens to the south. The
abbot's lodging was found to have been altered and extended during the
post-medieval period to create a secular dwelling, and the cloister converted
into a walled garden. Further buildings identified during excavation within
the fenced area include the infirmary, to the east, and the guest house to the
south. Adjacent to the east of the treasury were discovered the remains of a
limekiln. The excavated remains of the monastic buildings were found to date
from the early 12th to the 15th centuries.

Outside the fenced enclosure, immediately to the west of the abbot's lodging,
is a further area of earthworks including the remains of a walled yard nearly
8m wide and 22m long. On the north side of the yard are the buried remains of
a range of buildings attached to the abbot's lodging, and on the west are
those of the abbot's gatehouse. To the south of the yard is an area of level
ground bounded on the west by a raised, curved trackway. This feature is
considered to represent a raised garden or terrace at the front of the
post-medieval house. To the north of the yard is a large area approximately
80m square bounded on the north by a range of buildings aligned roughly
east-west; on the west are further building foundations, aligned north-south.
This area is considered to be the outer courtyard of the monastery, where the
stables, brewhouse and other domestic and agricultural buildings would have
been located. To the north of the courtyard is a further area of building
remains, including those of a small circular building with two opposing
entrances and an internal diameter of 6m, considered to be a medieval
dovecote. In both this area and in the outer court, traces of
ridge and furrow cultivation are discernible with the remains of a headland to
the west.
The remains of the monastic church, claustral buildings and associated
domestic and agricultural buildings lie within a moated precinct of roughly
rectangular shape and approximately 25 acres in area. The boundary moat
survives as a broad ditch up to 10m in width, with an external bank on the
east, west and south; on its inner bank are the remains of a brick wall,
considered to be a later addition. Approximately halfway along the western
boundary the moat is broken by a causeway; adjacent on the east are the buried
remains of the great gatehouse of the abbey, a rectangular building
approximately 14m by 7m connected to the abbot's gatehouse by a long east-west
wall. On the eastern boundary of the precinct the moat has been recut in
post-medieval times to form a broad, straight channel up to 14m wide with, on
its western side, a linear bank about 3m in width containing the remains of a
wall. These features form part of the post-medieval gardens of the
16th/17th-century house, the bank creating a raised terrace or walkway along
the edge of the moat. In the south eastern corner of the monument is a
rectangular pond, approximately 60m by 20m and aligned east-west, considered
to have originated in medieval times and recut as a feature of the later
garden. The northern, western and southern parts of the inner precinct of the
abbey are crossed by a series of linear depressions forming regular
rectangular enclosures. These are considered to relate to both the medieval
and post-medieval use of the site and include enclosures for cultivation,
animals and formal gardens.

In the north western corner of the monument, outside and adjacent to the inner
precinct moat, is a low-lying, linear enclosure approximately 230m x 30m
bounded on the west by the present course of the drain. Inside this enclosure
is a series of linear depressions, several of which run roughly parallel to
the precinct moat. These are considered to be the remains of monastic
fishponds, constructed in the medieval period in the course of an earlier
water channel. Contemporary documents indicate that there were up to four
types of fish available at the abbey, including 300-400 pike.

Excluded from the scheduling are all fences, pens and gates, along with the
bridge over the drain in the north western corner of the monument.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597
to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both
religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious
communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks,
canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of
religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated
from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.
These ranged in size from major communities with several hundred members to
tiny establishments with a handful of brethren. They belonged to a wide
variety of different religious orders, each with its own philosophy. As a
result, they vary considerably in the detail of their appearance and layout,
although all possess the basic elements of church, domestic accommodation for
the community, and work buildings. Monasteries were inextricably woven into
the fabric of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship,
learning and charity, but also, because of the vast landholdings of some
orders, as centres of immense wealth and political influence. They were
established in all parts of England, some in towns and others in the remotest
of areas. Many monasteries acted as the foci of wide networks including parish
churches, almshouses, hospitals, farming estates and tenant villages.
Benedictine monasticism had its roots in the rule written about AD 530 by St
Benedict of Nursia for his own abbey at Monte Cassino. Benedict had not
intended to establish an order of monasteries and wider adoption of his rule
came only gradually. The first real attempt to form a Benedictine order came
only in 1216. The Benedictine monks, who wore dark robes, came to be known as
`black monks'. These dark robes distinguished them from Cistercian monks who
became known as `white monks' on account of their light coloured robes. Over
150 Benedictine monasteries were founded in England. As members of a highly
successful order many Benedictine houses became extremely wealthy and
influential. Their wealth can frequently be seen in the scale and flamboyance
of their buildings. Benedictine monasteries made a major contribution to many
facets of medieval life and all examples exhibiting significant surviving
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The remains of the Benedictine abbey at Bardney are associated with those of
both a well-known Anglo-Saxon monastery and a substantial post-Dissolution
house and formal garden. Partial excavation to late-medieval ground level of
approximately 90% of the medieval monastic buildings has revealed a high
degree of survival for architectural remains while leaving earlier deposits,
relating to the construction of the buildings and to the pre-Conquest
monastery, intact. The earthworks of the medieval monastic precinct and
post-Dissolution garden have been relatively unaffected by later activity and
include waterlogged monastic fishponds, suggesting a high level of survival
for organic remains which will allow insights into the monastic and later
economy and diet. The site is well documented both historically and
archaeologically, and as a monument open to the public has a high educational
and recreational value.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Clarke, P, The Saxon Foundation of Bardney 1 - The Historical Setting, (1974)
Higgins, J A, Ruins of Bardney Abbey, (1974)
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 52, 59
Kowles, D, St Joseph, JKS , Monastic Sites from the Air, (1952), 22-23
Marjoram, J, Trial excavation at Bardney Abbey June 1974, (1974)
Owen, D M, Life at Bardney Abbey, (1974)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 97-104
Turner, J, The Architectural Fragments from B. Abbey Now Loose in B. Church, (1975)
Brakspear, H, 'Archaeological Journal' in Bardney Abbey, , Vol. LXXIX, (1922), 1-92
Stocker, D, 'Pre-Viking Lindsey' in The Early Church in Lincolnshire, , Vol. 1, (1993), 101-122
Cruickshank, Christopher, Lincolnshire From The Air, (1993)
RCHM, Everson, Paul, Archive Notes, (1991)
Title: Tithe Award
Source Date: 1842
LAO ref D219
Turner, J. and T. Leach, Notes for an Outing, 1974,
White, A.J.,

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.