Ancient Monuments

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Site of St Mary's Priory, Greenfield

A Scheduled Monument in Aby with Greenfield, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.2795 / 53°16'46"N

Longitude: 0.1477 / 0°8'51"E

OS Eastings: 543293.36925

OS Northings: 377986.24342

OS Grid: TF432779

Mapcode National: GBR YZGJ.S3

Mapcode Global: WHJLD.7TLR

Entry Name: Site of St Mary's Priory, Greenfield

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008687

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22604

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Aby with Greenfield

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Strubby Wold Marsh St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of the medieval priory of St Mary,
Greenfield, a Cistercian nunnery founded before 1153 and dissolved in 1536.
The remains consist of a moat enclosing a raised platform and other
The moat, averaging 10m in width, encloses a roughly rectangular area of
approximately 2ha currently occupied by a farmhouse, farmbuildings, yards,
garden and paddock. The moat varies in depth and has been partly filled-in
along its south-eastern arm, where dumping has taken place, although it
survives as a buried feature. In the southern corner it has been completely
filled-in for a length of about 40m where the farmyard has been extended
approximately 27m to the south along an access road. There is a break of
about 20m in the circuit of the moat on its south-western arm which is
considered to be the original entrance to the conventual enclosure.
Immediately to the north-west of this, the moat has been cut by the creation
of an equestrian cross-country water jump.
Enclosed by the moat is the area of the conventual precinct, raised
approximately 1m above the surrounding farmland. At the centre of the
enclosure is a raised platform roughly 70m square partly covered by the
present farmhouse and its outbuildings. The discovery of sandstone blocks
beneath the house when it was rebuilt in the 1960s indicates that the platform
is the site of the conventual buildings. The platform is at its highest
immediately east of the house and is covered by low earthworks. Some of these
represent later activity on the site, but others will represent activity
contemporary with the priory. The north-eastern edge of the platform
terminates in a bank approximately 15m from and parallel with the edge of the
moat. To the south is an area of farmyard, partly paved and occupied by farm-
buildings. West of the platform is a level area laid to lawn.
The raised area is bounded on the north-west by a linear depression
approximately 7m wide which runs roughly parallel with the edge of the moat.
At its eastern end it takes the form of a deep ditch, approximately 15m long,
recently re-cut. At its western end it joins the moat where it is cut by the
water-jump. Beyond this depression is an area of pasture, enclosed by the
northern part of the moat, with no apparent above-ground features.
Excluded from the scheduling are the farmhouse and its outbuildings, the
farmbuildings and all fences, 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 priory of St Mary, Greenfield, has never been excavated archaeologically.
Later remains largely overlie, rather than cut into, earlier deposits. Finds
of building material beneath the present farmhouse, and the survival of
earthworks in the adjacent paddock, indicate the preservation of 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)
'Lincolnshire History and Archaeology' in Archaeological Notes, , Vol. 2, (1968)

Source: Historic England

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