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Monastic grange and water control features immediately south of Thrussington Grange

A Scheduled Monument in Thrussington, Leicestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7589 / 52°45'31"N

Longitude: -1.0473 / 1°2'50"W

OS Eastings: 464385.585988

OS Northings: 318344.514681

OS Grid: SK643183

Mapcode National: GBR 9MK.017

Mapcode Global: WHFJX.WXFB

Entry Name: Monastic grange and water control features immediately south of Thrussington Grange

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016316

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17112

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Thrussington

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Thrussington with Ratcliffe on the Wreake

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

The monument is situated approximately 2km north of the village of
Thrussington on the west side of Ox Brook. It includes the earthwork and
buried remains of a monastic grange, associated water control features and an
area of ridge and furrow cultivation.
The grange at Thrussington belonged to the Gilbertine priory at Sempringham in
Lincolnshire and occupies a roughly rectangular area. It is bounded on three
sides by 5m wide ditches and on the fourth, eastern side, by a former course
of Ox Brook. The course of the brook has altered over the years and now lies
further east. In the north western part of the site, the boundary ditch is not
visible on the ground surface but will survive as a buried feature. The area
thus enclosed measures approximately 300m east-west and 140m north-south.
The grange can be divided into two parts: the eastern part, which forms the
core of the grange and includes levelled terraces and a number of building
platforms; and the western part, which includes a number of enclosures defined
by a series of boundary banks and ditches. In the north eastern part of the
site are the remains of two terraces; the western one is well-defined and is
occupied by two raised building platforms, whilst several hollows are visible
within the eastern terrace. Slight earthworks on the surfaces of these
terraces are thought to indicate the position of buried features. The eastern
part of the grange is considered to have included the monks' domestic
accommodation, probably a chapel and several agricultural buildings.
In the western and southern parts of the monument a number of enclosure banks
and ditches, and further terraces are visible. The defined enclosures or
paddocks provide evidence for the agricultural activites of the grange. One
enclosure, situated in the south western part of the grange, is bounded by a
bank and ditch along its northern, western and eastern sides and by the
grange's boundary ditch to the south. It measures approximately 65m square and
retains evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation. A further enclosure is
visible beyond the southern boundary ditch. It has a linear plan and is
bounded along its northern side by the southern boundary ditch and by a slight
bank to the south. This enclosure appears to overlie an area of ridge and
furrow visible to the south of the grange and is, therefore, considered to be
later in date than the ridge and furrow.
Adjacent to the north east and south of the grange are the earthwork remains
of ridge and furrow cultivation which are aligned east-west. These remains
provide evidence for the land use beyond the boundary ditches of the grange
and are thought to be contemporary with the occupation of the monastic grange.
The ridge and furrow to the south extends southwards for approximately 40m and
is included in the scheduling. A 26m wide sample area of that to the north
east is also included in order to preserve the relationship between the
monastic grange and the ridge and furrow.
Approximately 50m to the north east of the grange is a retaining bank which
has been constructed across the channel of the Ox Brook. The pond formed
behind this bank, now dry, would have originally served as a supply pond of
some extent. A 10m wide sample area of the floor of the pond is included in
the scheduling. Immediately to the south west of the retaining bank is a
levelled platform which is believed to include the buried remains of a
watermill associated with the monastic grange. The pond would have originally
provided the water supply to drive the mill's water-wheel.
The platform has been overlain by later ridge and furrow cultivation, which is
in turn partly overlain by a modern farm track.
The bridge across the northern boundary ditch, the surface of the farm track
and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.

The earthwork remains of the monastic grange south of Thrussington Grange have
been relatively undisturbed by later activity. Earthwork and buried remains at
the site survive well and will provide evidence for the secular and
agricultural buildings which were constructed at the grange. Archaeological
deposits will also retain information about the economy and environment of the
site during the medieval and early post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Central Leicestershire, (1989), 12,30

Source: Historic England

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