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Thorpe medieval settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Thorpe in the Fallows, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.3155 / 53°18'55"N

Longitude: -0.6332 / 0°37'59"W

OS Eastings: 491154.025293

OS Northings: 380710.165587

OS Grid: SK911807

Mapcode National: GBR SZ03.Q6

Mapcode Global: WHGHK.7XQN

Entry Name: Thorpe medieval settlement

Scheduled Date: 24 November 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016978

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22761

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Thorpe in the Fallows

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: The Spring Line Group

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork remains of the medieval village of Thorpe,
a small settlement established before the late 11th century. Documentary
evidence for a church at Thorpe first occurs in the mid-12th century.
Throughout the medieval period the parish was divided into four different
holdings, some part of monastic estates; during this time the population of
the village remained fairly static at about 10-15 households. Following the
Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, the parish came under the
single ownership of the dean and chapter of Lincoln, and in the 17th and 18th
centuries the village gradually became depopulated. The church was demolished
early in the 17th century, and in the early 18th century the parish was
enclosed. Two farms in the village continued working into the 20th century.
While the medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains which formerly
surrounded the village have been levelled by modern ploughing, most of the
area of the medieval village is still visible as a series of earthworks.

The village of Thorpe is linear in form, stretching along a slight ridge in
low-lying land on the eastern side of the Trent Valley. The settlement remains
are visable as a series of raised rectangular enclosures, lying adjacent to
each other on an east-west alignment and separated by shallow drainage ditches
running north-south. Most of these enclosures represent house plots in which
the buried remains of medieval dwellings are located. A group of enclosures
in the western part of the monument is bounded on the east and north by more
substantial water-control features, including broad ditches and linear ponds
up to 1m deep; further ponds are situated on the south side of these
enclosures adjacent to the present road. This group of remains may represent
a single medieval land holding including four or five house plots. The ponds
have been altered in the post-medieval and modern periods as they remained in

A war memorial near the centre of the settlement marks the site of the
medieval church at Thorpe. Located within a raised rectangular enclosure
measuring about 50m by 30m and representing the churchyard, the remains of the
church survive as buried building foundations. The north eastern corner of the
churchyard enclosure is now overlain by spoil from the adjacent pond. The
plots immediately to the east of the churchyard are bounded on the south by a
low linear bank, and some include traces of ridge and furrow cultivation
beneath the plots indicating a phase of expansion of the village onto earlier
arable land.

The war memorial and all 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

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where
the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain
by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial
deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle
variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and
hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations
suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province
there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some
of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of
farms out of earlier villages.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as
earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed
crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish
church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most
villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as
visible remains as well as below ground deposits. Villages were the most
distinctive aspect of medieval life in central England, and their
archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding
about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

The remains of the medieval village of Thorpe survive well as a series of
substantial earthworks which, as a result of detailed archaeological survey
and historical research, are quite well understood. Waterlogging in parts of
the site will preserve organic remains such as artefacts made from wood, cloth
and leather, giving an insight into the lifestyle of the inhabitants. The
preservation of plant remains will provide valuable information about the
natural environment and climate at the time the village was occupied, as well
as for horticultural and agricultural activity in the area. Buried structural
remains, including houses and a parish church, will preserve evidence for
domestic and religious activity. All of these features contribute to our
understanding of the way in which small medieval settlements functioned as
components of a wider social and economic landscape.

Source: Historic England

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