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Moated site of monastic grange with adjacent earthworks at Rigbolt House

A Scheduled Monument in Gosberton, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.8382 / 52°50'17"N

Longitude: -0.2282 / 0°13'41"W

OS Eastings: 519444.224949

OS Northings: 328215.113599

OS Grid: TF194282

Mapcode National: GBR HWM.33L

Mapcode Global: WHHM6.GXKJ

Entry Name: Moated site of monastic grange with adjacent earthworks at Rigbolt House

Scheduled Date: 20 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009979

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20816

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Gosberton

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Gosberton Clough St Gilbert and St Hugh

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument, which is located close to a medieval fen bank enclosing marine
silts which were probably taken in from the fen in the early 12th century,
includes a moated site incorporating two enclosures on a line north-south
and, adjoining this, to the north and east of the northern enclosure, the
remains of part of a field system of medieval type. Rigbolt House is
identified as the site of a cell of Sempringham Priory.

The two enclosures, which are conjoined, are both sub-rectangular in plan, the
northern enclosure being the larger of the two, with overall maximum
dimensions of approximately 200m north-south by 160m east-west, and the
southern enclosure having dimensions of approximately 136m east-west by 100m

The central island of the northern enclosure is bordered on the north and west
sides by a ditch measuring from 10m to 14m in width, and from 1m to 1.8m in
depth. The southern enclosure is defined on its west side by the continuation
southwards of the western arm, and on its north and east sides by a moat ditch
which branches from the western arm and separates the two enclosures. The
western arm narrows towards the southern end, where it has been modified to
function as a drain and feeds into a brick culvert, whereas the eastern arm is
a slightly broader feature, approximately 15m wide. All these parts of the
moat, except for the eastern arm of the southern enclosure, are intermittently
wet at the bottom.

The moat probably continues around the southern side of the southern
enclosure, although it is obscured here by a modern drainage ditch which runs
alongside the adjoining bank. A part of the northern arm of the moat around
the northern enclosure has been cleaned out near its eastern end to make a
pond, and a length of up to 20m beyond this, at the eastern end itself, has
been filled in, although it survives as a buried feature which is visible in
air photographs. The eastern arm adjoining this has also been filled in,
although it, too, will survive as a buried feature. A slight rectilinear
scarp in the ground surface at the southern end of the projected line probably
indicates the internal angle of the moat at the south eastern corner.

The western arm of the moat around the northern enclosure is interrupted by a
causeway across the northern end, and the northern arm is crossed by a
causeway of recent construction.

The central island of the northern enclosure contains several earthwork
features, some of which probably relate to manorial or monastic buildings
which once occupied the site. A bank approximately 56m in length, l9m wide
and up to 0.8m in height runs westwards from a garden wall north west of
Rigbolt House, which stands east of centre on the central island. To the
south of this bank, around the west and south sides of Rigbolt House, is a
low, rectilinear terrace approximately 0.5m in height and measuring c.40m on
each side, north-south and east-west.

In the north east corner of the southern enclosure, the upper edge of the moat
ditch shelves internally to form a shallow, sub-rectangular bay, measuring
approximately 22m north-south by 18m east-west, with traces of a bank
around the west and south sides.

A paddock adjoining the moated site on the north east side contains a series
of parallel east-west ditches, visible as slight, linear hollows
approximately 0.3m deep, alternating with low banks approximately 14m wide and
up to 0.4m high above the prevailing ground level. These features are part of
a system of field strips and drainage ditches known as dylings, and similar
earthworks, although less well defined, can be seen immediately to the north
of the moated site. The remains of the field system can be seen in aerial
photographs to continue eastwards for approximately 500m across modern fields
which are under plough, but the remains which are in ploughland are not
included in the scheduling.

In the 13th century, Rigbolt manor was held by the de Rye family from the
Bishop of Lincoln, and in c.1280 Ranulph de Rye granted it, with its manorial
chapel of St Mary, to Sempringham Priory, a foundation of the Gilbertine
order. Thereafter, the manor continued as a cell and grange of the Priory
until the dissolution. Part of a medieval structure, interpreted as a chapel,
was still standing on the moated site in 1793, as part of a farmhouse, but
this was demolished some time before 1816, when the present Rigbolt house was
built. Many human bones were said to have been found nearby.

Rigbolt House, which is Listed Grade II, is excluded from the scheduling, as
are the farm buildings which occupy part of the eastern side of the site, all
track and yard surfaces, paths, an oil tank, lamp posts and clothes line
posts in the grounds of the house, the garden wall and fence, a lawn tennis
court to the south of the house, service poles, a pump house and pump adjacent
to the northern arm of the moat, and all field boundary fences and gates,
although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.

The moated site at Rigbolt House is of importance as a manorial site and as a
cell and grange of Sempringham Priory, and its proximity to Newhall moated
site, a grange of Spalding Priory less than 1km to the south in the
neighbouring parish of Pinchbeck, is of additional interest for comparative
studies of this class of site and for the study of the medieval landscape in
this part of the Fenland region. The monument survives well, being
undisturbed by cultivation and to a large extent unencumbered by later
building. It will retain archaeological information concerning the
construction of the moated site and the organisation and use of the site as a
grange throughout the medieval period, and evidence of earlier land use will
be preserved beneath the internal banks and raised surfaces. The adjacent
earthworks will preserve evidence for farming practices in the area
immediately around the moated site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hayes, P P, Lane, T M, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 5: Lincolnshire Survey, The South West Fens, , Vol. 55, (1992), 63
copy in F E P dossier: Gosberton U6, Ancliffe, V, (1979)
copy in F E P dossier: Gosberton U6, Healey, RH & Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire: Gosberton,
copy in F E P dossier: Gosberton U6, Healey, RH & Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire: Gosberton,
copy in F E P dossier: Gosberton U6, Healey, RH & Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire: Gosberton,
Dossier for H B M C, Fenland Evaluation Project: Lincolnshire, (1990)
Ostler, Mrs, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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