Ancient Monuments

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Old Spilsby: medieval settlement and cultivation remains south east of Partney Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Partney, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1838 / 53°11'1"N

Longitude: 0.1031 / 0°6'11"E

OS Eastings: 540632.084701

OS Northings: 367257.662723

OS Grid: TF406672

Mapcode National: GBR KVG.GWH

Mapcode Global: WHJLY.K79J

Entry Name: Old Spilsby: medieval settlement and cultivation remains south east of Partney Bridge

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014704

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22715

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Partney

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Spilsby St James

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a deserted medieval
settlement south east of Partney Bridge, known as Old Spilsby. The remains are
believed to represent a settlement which was in existence before the late 11th
century and was subsequently depopulated after the present market town of
Spilsby was established in the mid 13th century. The settlement was
completely deserted by the late 18th century and some of the medieval
earthworks reused as post-medieval field boundaries. The remains of the
settlement are adjoined by those of the medieval open fields which surrounded
it and of associated hollow ways. The monument includes the full extent of
the remains of the settlement and the best surviving remains of ridge and
furrow cultivation which lie immediately adjacent to it.

The monument is located in the shallow valley of a tributary of the River Lymn
approximately 1km north east of Spilsby. The stream runs from south to north
through the valley and the remains take the form of a series of earthworks
lying to the east and west of it. At the centre of the monument, extending
along both sides of the stream, is a roughly rectangular area approximately
100m wide and 250m long bounded on each side by a hollow way; this area is
occupied by a series of banks and ditches which include the remains of house
plots and associated cultivation and animal enclosures. There are further
enclosures along the stream to the north, partly overlain by later earthworks.
These features are considered to represent the remains of the medieval
settlement of Old Spilsby which extended northwards to the former bank of the
River Lymn.

Surrounding the settlement remains are the earthworks of ridge and furrow
cultivation, occupying a series of approximately rectangular blocks bounded by
hollow ways and ditches. Each of these blocks represents a complete furlong,
cultivated in medieval times as a single unit within the large open fields of
which it formed a part. Immediately to the south of the settlement remains are
two small complete furlongs, bounded by the stream on the west and on the east
by a hollow way which runs south westward from the settlement.

All modern fences 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.

The remains of the medieval settlement known as Old Spilsby have been
evaluated under the Monuments Protection Programme Medieval Settlement
Diversity Project and have been identified as one of the best surviving
medieval settlement sites in the region. The settlement is rare in having
been completely deserted at a relatively early date and largely unaltered by
later activity. Exceptional in this region is the association of the
settlement remains with those of an extensive system of contemporary
ridge and furrow cultivation including complete furlongs surviving in good
condition. The archaeological relationships between these features will inform
us how a settlement of this type functioned socially and economically, both as
a unit and as an element in the wider local and regional landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Everson, P E, Hayes, T, Lincolnshire from the Air, (1984), 39
Foster, C W, Longley, T, 'Lincoln Record Society Publications' in Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey Survey, , Vol. 19, (1924), 33, 86
Platts, G, 'History of Lincolnshire' in Land and People in Medieval Lincolnshire, , Vol. IV, (1985), 302
plot of aerial photographs at SMR, RCHME,
site visit 13.12.1995, Catney, Steve, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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