Ancient Monuments

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Moated grange and enclosure at Owston

A Scheduled Monument in Owston and Newbold, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6657 / 52°39'56"N

Longitude: -0.8363 / 0°50'10"W

OS Eastings: 478792.982066

OS Northings: 308186.793569

OS Grid: SK787081

Mapcode National: GBR BQ3.Z87

Mapcode Global: WHFKM.4808

Entry Name: Moated grange and enclosure at Owston

Scheduled Date: 25 February 1953

Last Amended: 11 June 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010305

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17031

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Owston and Newbold

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Owston and Withcote (Whatborough Parishes)

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The moated site at Owston, known locally as `Oliver Cromwell's Castle', is
situated midway between the villages of Owston and Knossington. It comprises
a large sub-rectangular moat and an associated enclosure to the south.
The moat is substantial measuring 110 x 125m overall. The surrounding ditch
is waterfilled and measures 12-15m wide, and up to 3m deep at the south east
corner. On the north west, an inturned corner of the moat has an extra arm
that projects into the island for 20m. An inner bank is identifiable on the
south and east sides of the island and an entrance causeway is visible near
the south west corner. The moat was fed by a stream entering via a feeder
channel on the north west side. Attached to the south side of the moat is a
large enclosure defined partly by a ditch 6m wide and 1m deep which runs the
width of the field 60m to the south. The ditch turns at either end and
follows banks surmounted by hedgelines northwards back towards the moat.
There are further connecting ditches and a large hollow in the north east of
the enclosure.
The parish was owned by Owston Abbey, and it is considered that the site was a
moated grange farm belonging to the Abbey.

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 monument at Owston is a very extensive and well-preserved example of a
moated grange. The monument has considerable potential for preserving
building foundations and other occupation evidence both within the interior
of the moat and the attached enclosure.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bott, D J, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society' in Oliver Cromwell's Castle, , Vol. 26, (1950)

Source: Historic England

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