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Martinsthorpe deserted medieval village

A Scheduled Monument in Manton, Rutland

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Latitude: 52.6327 / 52°37'57"N

Longitude: -0.7205 / 0°43'13"W

OS Eastings: 486690.125068

OS Northings: 304650.126075

OS Grid: SK866046

Mapcode National: GBR CRZ.YFS

Mapcode Global: WHFKV.X321

Entry Name: Martinsthorpe deserted medieval village

Scheduled Date: 12 August 1954

Last Amended: 30 January 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010926

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17013

County: Rutland

Civil Parish: Manton

Traditional County: Rutland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Rutland

Church of England Parish: Manton St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The site of Martinsthorpe deserted medieval village occupies an exposed ridge
4km south of Oakham. The site comprises medieval village earthwork remains,
including a manorial moat and a listed post medieval standing building.

The earthwork remains represent house platforms, hollow ways, village closes
and a pond. A rectangular moated site measuring approximately 100m E-W, and
75m N-S is contained within the village earthworks on the north side of the
site. The ditches are 1m deep on the south and west sides. Aerial photography
indicates the village formerly extended to the south, but this area is now
under plough and no visible features survive. Later development of the site in
the centre of the village involved the building of Martinsthorpe house in the
late 17th century (demolished 1775), seen today as a substantial irregular
mound of rubble. Adjoining this is the site of a chapel, contemporary with the
hall, which was used for worship until the present century. There is
documentary reference for the chapel's existence in 1589. A nearby standing
building dating from the late 16th-early 17th century, known as Martinsthorpe
farmhouse, was converted from a former stables.

The deserted village is a feature characteristic of the medieval period, there
being about 3,000 sites known nationally and about 80 in Leicestershire. There
were many reasons for desertion, the principal being the change in land use
from arable to pasture in the 15th century due to an increase in the price of
wool. Martinsthorpe is first mentioned in 1205, and in 1327 there were 14
householders. The manor became part of the estates of the de Montfort family,
remaining in their ownership until the reign of Henry VI. During this time it
was sub-let to the Seyton family, and eventually passed to the Fieldings who
became the Earls of Denbigh in 1622. By the time the Hall was built the
village was depopulated. An excavation was carried out in 1960 on a small area
to the south which is now ploughed, in which evidence of medieval occupation
was found.

Martinsthorpe farmhouse, the only standing building, was occupied until 1952,
and today has its doors and windows blocked. It is a grade II listed building
and excluded from the scheduling. The trackway, which has a concrete surface,
is also excluded. The ground beneath the farmhouse and the trackway is
included in the scheduling.

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.

Martinsthorpe deserted village is a well preserved example of a Leicestershire
medieval village complex. Documentary evidence shows that the medieval manor
was part of the estates of the de Montfort family, one of the most powerful
noble families in this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Rutland, (1983), 27-8
Waites, B, Exploring Rutland, (1982), 17-8
Cox, B, 'Anglo Saxon England' in Rutland and the Scandinavian Settlements: The Place Name Evidence, , Vol. 18, (1989), 140
Wacher, J, 'Transactions of the Leics Arch and Hist Society' in Excavations at Martinsthorpe, Rutland 1960, , Vol. 39, (1963), 1-19

Source: Historic England

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