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Deserted medieval village of Hamilton

A Scheduled Monument in Barkby Thorpe, Leicestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6607 / 52°39'38"N

Longitude: -1.0502 / 1°3'0"W

OS Eastings: 464338.79126

OS Northings: 307421.96836

OS Grid: SK643074

Mapcode National: GBR 9NP.59S

Mapcode Global: WHFKH.VD32

Entry Name: Deserted medieval village of Hamilton

Scheduled Date: 29 May 1952

Last Amended: 10 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012557

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17068

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Barkby Thorpe

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Barkby

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

The deserted village site at Hamilton is located between the villages of
Scraptoft and Barkby Thorpe on the north-east side of the city of Leicester
and includes a moated site and a fishpond contained within the village
earthworks.
The area of village earthworks is contained within a roughly rectangular area
measuring approximately 330m x 300m which is crossed by the Scraptoft to
Barkby Thorpe road on its eastern side and the Melton Brook on the northern
side. The boundaries of the medieval village are clearly defined by a bank
1.5m high on the south side beyond which lies ridge and furrow ploughing
which can also be seen to the north-west of the site. A well defined internal
street system is evidenced by hollow ways, the main examples of which run
north-south and east-west and are up to 1m deep. The village street system
does not relate to either the modern road or a footpath which crosses the
site. A series of house platforms are evident, at least ten of which lie in
the northern part of the site. A platform on the south-western side of the
site is believed to be the site of a chapel. Platforms are often adjacent to
closes, a large example of which lies on the south-east side of the site
defined by ditches of about 1m in depth. On the northern side of the close is
a rectangular moated area measuring 55m x 45m overall. The moat ditches are
approximately 1 deep and 8m in width with a channel leading off on the
eastern side. Adjacent to the north-western corner, but not connected to it,
is a rectangular fishpond measuring 30m x 10m which is about 1m deep.

The name of Hamilton is first recorded in c.1125 when it contained 374 acres
of land. By 1377 there were only four taxpayers and it is clear that
desertion took place in the next century. A chapel dedicated to St John was
dependent on Barkby. A series of small excavations were carried out in the
years following the Second World War in which a large circular hearth and
flooring was discovered together with medieval and Roman finds.
The modern road on the eastern side of the site and the footbridge over Melton
Brook are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 and often had a nearby system
of fishponds. Such moated sites form a significant class of medieval monument
and are important for understanding the distribution of wealth and status in
the countryside.

The village site at Hamilton is exceptionally well preserved with a wide
diversity of features and good documentation indicating the period of
desertion. It is one of a series of deserted sites providing useful
comparative information on a large area of depopulation in eastern
Leicestershire.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hoskins, W G, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in Seven Deserted Village Sites in Leicestershire (Volume 32), , Vol. 32, (1956), 44-5
Hoskins, WG, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch & Historical Society' in The Deserted Villages of Leicestershire (Volume 22), , Vol. 22, (1945), 243-4

Source: Historic England

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