Ancient Monuments

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Site of Heynings Priory

A Scheduled Monument in Knaith, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.3584 / 53°21'30"N

Longitude: -0.7298 / 0°43'47"W

OS Eastings: 484633.622403

OS Northings: 385365.746943

OS Grid: SK846853

Mapcode National: GBR RYBL.ST

Mapcode Global: WHFG5.RVN7

Entry Name: Site of Heynings Priory

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008685

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22603

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Knaith

Built-Up Area: Knaith Park

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Knaith St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of the medieval nunnery of Heynings, a
priory of Cistercian nuns founded after 1135 and dissolved in 1539. The
remains include part of the inner precinct, most of the outer precinct and
associated earthworks.
The remains of the inner precinct of the nunnery lie beneath the present
farmhouse, farmbuildings, yards and gardens of Park Farm South. The farmhouse
and adjacent farmbuildings stand on a slightly raised platform which preserves
remains of the conventual buildings and cemetery. The buried foundations of
stone walls and finds of medieval pottery and tile from the lawn south of the
house indicate the location of the conventual buildings, and a number of
burials from the area of the adjacent farmbuildings indicate the site of the
conventual cemetery. The precinct is bounded on the west by a stream. In the
north-west corner a fragment of the boundary moat visibly survives, with
associated ditches. On the east the precinct is bounded by the remains of a
medieval headland.
The outer precinct of the nunnery, immediately adjacent to the north of the
inner precinct, survives as an area of earthworks within a paddock between the
farmhouse and road. The earthworks represent the remains of monastic
outbuildings, including a barn, which have been subjected to stone-robbing
since their abandonment. Lying approximately at the centre of the precinct
enclosure are the earthwork remains of a large rectangular building, partly
overlain by a pair of modern cottages. A hollow way leads from this building
out of the precinct towards Park Farm North. The precinct is bounded on the
west and north-west by a ditch, and on the east by the remains of a medieval
headland. The headland is overlain by ridge-and-furrow which also extends
across the easternmost part of the precinct.
Adjacent to the outer precinct on the north is a small area of associated
earthworks. These include the hollow way running north-west from the precinct
boundary. In the north-east corner of the site is a group of earthworks
representing a small settlement site partly overlying the precinct boundary.
The present farmhouse, farmbuildings, cottages and fences are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women.
Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship,
accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic
buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be
accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct
wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field
systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. The earliest English nunneries
were founded in the seventh century AD but most of these had fallen out of use
by the ninth century. A small number of these were later refounded. The tenth
century witnessed the foundation of some new houses but the majority of
medieval nunneries were established from the late 11th century onwards.
Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time,
including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and
Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries
existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites
are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly
understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The site of Heynings priory has never been excavated archaeologically, and
post-medieval activity on the site has been of limited impact, largely
overlying rather than destroying earlier remains. Substantial earthworks,
buried walls and finds of human burials indicate a good state of preservation
below ground.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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