Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Whatborough deserted medieval village

A Scheduled Monument in Tilton on the Hill and Halstead, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6457 / 52°38'44"N

Longitude: -0.8611 / 0°51'40"W

OS Eastings: 477152.418953

OS Northings: 305934.915572

OS Grid: SK771059

Mapcode National: GBR BQG.53Y

Mapcode Global: WHFKL.RR4M

Entry Name: Whatborough deserted medieval village

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1954

Last Amended: 8 December 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008555

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17090

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Tilton on the Hill and Halstead

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Tilton-on-the-Hill (Whatborough Parishes)

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument at Whatborough is situated on the south facing slope of a
limestone hill which is one of the highest points in east Leicestershire and
includes an extensive area of deserted medieval village earthworks.

The village earthworks occupy an irregularly shaped area of some 300 x 200m.
A large hollow way measuring up to 15m wide and 2m deep leads into the site
from the south-east and runs westwards. Along this hollow way are the most
clearly defined house platforms together with a distinct square shaped house
enclosure situated in the north-eastern part of the site. Clear evidence of
internal property boundaries exists in many parts of the site. An internal
road system consisting of an axial road running north-south and forking before
joining the southern hollow way forms an island of earthworks in the centre of
the village complex. The southern part of the site, located around a spring,
appears to have been annexed at a later date and does not conform to the
remaining village plan. A dry stream bed, outside the area of the
scheduling, runs south from this area.

The village is listed in Domesday Book and in the mid 12th century was granted
jointly to the Priory of Alderbury in Shropshire and to the neighbouring
Priory of Launde. In 1327, Alderbury leased its Whatborough lands to the
Priory of Launde but after the suppression of the Alien Priories by Henry V
Alderbury's lands became Crown property. In 1437, Whatborough was given
to All Souls College, Oxford, who leased the lands back to Launde. In 1495
Launde enclosed Whatborough parish and turned it over to pasture land, thus
bringing about depopulation. Ownership between Launde and All Souls College
was in contention in the mid 16th century and, because of this, a map was
commissioned in 1586 to define the village as it was prior to enclosure.
This map survives today.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets,
paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community
devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural
landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages
provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal
point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each
parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly
during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval
villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but
often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as
enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment
these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain
well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and
long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important
information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming
economy between the regions and through time.

The site of Whatborough is well preserved and retains evidence of a wide
variety of features. It is unique in Leicestershire in that there exists a
16th century map which uses evidence on the ground to recreate the plan of the
village prior to desertion in 1495. It also has good documentary evidence
demonstrating important connections with two religious houses.

Source: Historic England


Title: The Plan of Whatborough: a Study of the Sixteenth-Century Map
Source Date: 1989
Pagination 83-92

Source: Historic England

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