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Willoughby deserted medieval village, post-medieval moated manor, church, six fishponds, ridge and furrow and hollow way

A Scheduled Monument in Norwell, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.1587 / 53°9'31"N

Longitude: -0.8229 / 0°49'22"W

OS Eastings: 478803.648843

OS Northings: 363043.054471

OS Grid: SK788630

Mapcode National: GBR CKG.W7L

Mapcode Global: WHFH3.BVDV

Entry Name: Willoughby deserted medieval village, post-medieval moated manor, church, six fishponds, ridge and furrow and hollow way

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1954

Last Amended: 11 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013884

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23208

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Norwell

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Norwell

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes the remains of a small deserted medieval village, the
post-medieval moated manor which superseded it, six fishponds, the site of a
church or chapel, and a sample of associated ridge and furrow. The village
remains include a row of crofts flanking the east side of the road from
Norwell to Carlton on Trent. There are at least eight of these small enclosed
plots of land. Seven are parallel, linear enclosures orientated east to west,
and the eighth, situated at the north end of the group, is a roughly
triangular banked enclosure. The crofts are divided either by a low bank and
ditch or simply a shallow ditch. The triangular enclosure and several of the
crofts contain rectangular platforms which are the sites of medieval
To the south of the crofts there is a complex of earthworks which include
numerous building platforms and a large rectangular pond, deeper at its
western end than at its eastern. Overall, this feature measures c.35m x 20m
and is up to 1.75m deep. It is fed from the north by a channel leading from a
second shallower pond measuring c.25m x 15m x 1m deep. A building platform
projects into this pond which also has an outlet into the ditch flanking the
south side of the first croft. This ditch runs eastward between two banks, of
which the southern then turns southwards to partially enclose the area south
of the crofts. Another rectangular pond lies in the north-east corner of this
enclosure and measures c.20m x 40m x 1m deep. To the west of this is a
platform surrounded on three sides by robbed-out wall trenches with, to the
east, a slightly sunken area which, although disturbed, can be seen to have
included three arms projecting north, south and east with the latter having a
semi-circular end. Because of these characteristics, the feature has been
interpreted as the site of a small church or chapel.
Flanking the east side of the crofts and extending southwards alongside the
enclosure to the south is a hollow way or sunken track. This hollow way, which
originated as an access route serving the medieval village, has in places been
altered by widening and levelling and by the addition of drainage ditches on
either side. These improvements will have been carried out in the post-
medieval period in association with other works relating to access to the
moated manor. The site of the manor is to the east of the village though it
may also overlie part of the village remains since it is likely to have
replaced a medieval manorial complex. It includes a large, well-preserved moat
which was the site of the post-medieval manor house. The moat includes a
roughly square island measuring 40m x 45m surrounded by a 10m wide ditch
crossed by a causeway on the south side and surrounded by outer revetment
banks which may mark the site of a wall. The remains of ancillary buildings
and other features survive to the north, west and south of the moat and
include, to the west, three additional rectangular fishponds of which two are
joined at right-angles. These measure 18m x 11m and 12m x 35m respectively
while the third measures 9m x 30m. All are c.1m deep and, together with the
moat, lie within a large banked enclosure. On the north side of the moat, this
enclosure is sub-divided by at least one transverse bank, while, to the west,
the area between the fishponds and moat contains other smaller enclosures
divided by banks and ditches. To the south of the moat is another large
enclosure containing features interpreted as the sites of walled or sunken
gardens. To the north, beyond the main enclosure bank, is a line of four
rectangular platforms measuring, from west to east, 6m x 10m, 46m x 10m, 28m x
10m and 25m x 10m respectively. The last three formed a continuous range, now
sub-divided by robbed out wall trenches, and show evidence of thresholds both
between platforms and opening onto a thoroughfare to the south, between the
buildings and the moat. While there is no precise evidence at present of the
buildings' function, a likely interpretation would be that they were stable
blocks and a coach house. The thoroughfare joins up with the widened hollow
way to the west. To the north, behind the building range, are the remains of a
substantial wall and ditch which formerly enclosed the manorial complex on
that side.
In addition to linking up with the lane serving the stable block, the hollow
way also extended southwards in the post-medieval period to connect with a
driveway which approached the manor from the Norwell road. This road can be
seen to the south of the enclosure containing the chapel and takes the form of
a level sward flanked to north and south by ditches. The width of this drive
varies between 16m at its eastern end, where it joins the line of the hollow
way, and c.30m at its western end, where it joins the Norwell road. This
suggests that, at this point, the driveway may have forked so that there were
two exits onto the road, one to the north and one to the south. At the
narrowest point there is a sharply defined right-angled recess in the north
side of the road which may have been the site of a gatehouse. To the south of
the drive is a remnant of the open-fields which formerly served the medieval
village and may have survived in use into the post-medieval period. The
remains consist of two interlocking blocks of ridge and furrow, one running
east to west, the other north to south. Each plough ridge is c.0.5m high and
the distance between the furrows is c.8m. To the north-east are the remains of
another banked enclosure. This contains a rectangular sunken feature which has
been truncated by the modern field boundary.
All boundary fencing and gates are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath these features 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.

Willoughby deserted medieval village is a small but well-preserved example
exhibiting clear evidence of crofts and house platforms, fishponds, a hollow
way and a church. The sample of ridge and furrow included in the scheduling is
a good example of two articulated blocks or furlongs which illustrate well the
typical reversed-C curve of medieval plough-ridges and the fan shape common to
medieval strip fields.
In addition to the reasons for desertion given above, a common cause was the
forced removal of village populations in the post-medieval period, often to
provide an uninterrupted view for the inhabitants of stately homes and manor
houses. This may have been the case at Willoughby where a post-medieval moated
manor has clearly been superimposed on the medieval village site. There are
around 6000 moated sites known in England and the majority of them served as
prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a
moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence.
Most moats date to the period between about 1250 and 1350, but many continued
in use into the post-medieval period when the original timber buildings were
often replaced in timber-framed brick and stone, and some are still inhabited
today. They exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes and are
important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in
the countryside. Willoughby moat is a large, well-preserved example associated
with a wide range of additional features including gardens, ponds, ancillary
buildings and a driveway linking it the road. Archaeological remains relating
to both medieval and post-medieval occupation will survive well and
extensively throughout the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Deserted Villages, (1963)
67/208 291-2,
Drawing of manor house,
St Joseph, J K, EX 18, EF 6,

Source: Historic England

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