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North Marefield deserted medieval village and moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Owston and Newbold, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6729 / 52°40'22"N

Longitude: -0.8924 / 0°53'32"W

OS Eastings: 474989.716869

OS Northings: 308926.848965

OS Grid: SK749089

Mapcode National: GBR BQ1.H5M

Mapcode Global: WHFKL.829R

Entry Name: North Marefield deserted medieval village and moated site

Scheduled Date: 26 March 1969

Last Amended: 8 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010306

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17030

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 deserted village site of North Marefield is situated on the south side of
a stream, in open countryside 1km north of the present village of Marefield.
It includes an extensive network of hollow trackways, closes and building
platforms and a moated site situated in the north east.
The village of North Marefield developed beside the old road, now a bridle-
path on the south side of the site, and covered a large area. The numerous
trackways are interspersed with approximately twenty building platforms
occurring mainly on the eastern side of the site. On the remainder of the
site, banks and scarps mark the boundaries of closes and gardens. It is
considered that a platform on the western side, where several large blocks of
dressed stone have been found, contains remains of the chapel. The moated
site is roughly 30m square in overall dimensions, with a ditch 1m deep and 6-
8m wide, and an island measuring 15 x 20m. A channel leads from the moat down
a slope to the stream. The site contains many later quarry holes, which may
have resulted from gravel extraction for a nearby railway.
Documentary evidence shows that the principal reason for desertion of this
village was the imposed change in land use from arable to pasture in the 15th
century reflecting increases in the price of wool. It is further confirmed by
records of a dispute concerning large flocks of sheep, dated to 1463. The
chapel on the site is considered to be the same one documented as belonging to
Owston, which was already in existence by 1166.
The footbridge which crosses the stream is excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath it is included.

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

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.

Also sometimes associated with deserted settlements are moated sites which
often served as prestigious manorial residences. Such moated sites form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.
Despite the later quarry holes, the village site at north Marefield is
very well preserved with a wide diversity of features and a well documented
association with a medieval chapel. It is one of the best surviving examples
of a deserted village site in Leicestershire.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hoskins, WG, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in The Deserted Villages of Leicestershire (Volume 22), , Vol. 22, (1945)
St Joseph, J K S, 'Antiquity' in Air Reconnaisance: Recent Results, , Vol. 40, (1966)

Source: Historic England

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