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Gumley medieval settlement remains, rabbit warren and field systems, 600m south west of the Church of St Helen

A Scheduled Monument in Gumley, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.5043 / 52°30'15"N

Longitude: -1.0089 / 1°0'31"W

OS Eastings: 467371.263881

OS Northings: 290062.828537

OS Grid: SP673900

Mapcode National: GBR 9QH.XDR

Mapcode Global: VHDQR.GBH1

Entry Name: Gumley medieval settlement remains, rabbit warren and field systems, 600m south west of the Church of St Helen

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017210

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30261

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Gumley

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Gumley St Helen

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes medieval settlement remains, a rabbit warren and field
systems, and is situated 600m south west of the Church of St Helen.

The settlement remains include part of the medieval village of Gumley, further
remains of the village survive approximately 1km to the east and are the
subject of a separate scheduling. Part of the village between the two
monuments is still inhabited.

The remains immediately west of the church are orientated along a hollow way
which formerly comprised the northern end of what is now Main Street, the main
thoroughfare through the village. The hollow way is a maximum of 26m in width,
3m in depth and runs from the church on a north west-south east axis for 130m
before dividing into two parts. The eastern branch curves north east for 80m
to run parallel with and gradually converge upon the modern Smeeton-Westerby
road, which replaced it. The locations of several buildings standing within
and adjacent to this section of hollow way are represented by up to six sub-
rectangular embanked platforms which are situated along its sides and within
its base, which is extremely broad at this point. The second branch of the
hollow way runs north west for 10m up to the modern road, continuing
northwards beyond it and represents an earlier course of the Gumley to
Saddington road which cuts through an area of medieval ridge and furrow
cultivation. A further series of earthwork remains situated south west of the
Gumley to Saddington road include a medieval rabbit warren which survives as a
series of up to 13 low rectangular mounds which are a maximum of 0.8m in
height and vary between 10m and 20m in length. The mounds are separated by
narrow drainage channels whilst adjacent low embanked platforms indicate the
location of structures associated with the management of the warren. The
southern edge of the warren is defined by a boundary bank approximately 1.5m
in width and 0.6m in height which runs parallel with the Laughton road for
350m. The warren as a whole is located within a well defined medieval
agricultural landscape surviving as extensive ridge and furrow remains. The
ridge and furrow is aligned on a north east-south west axis and continues
either side of the modern Laughton road. Larger baulks running parallel with
the fields and spaced at regular intervals divide the strips into groups of
seven or eight.

Gumley, or Godmundesleach in its earliest recorded form, has a long documented
history. Charters were signed by the Mercian kings Ethelbald in AD 749 and
Offa in AD 772 and 779 at the settlement. At the time of the reign of Edward
the Confessor the village had been divided into two lordships. One of these
contained 20 acres of meadow and was owned jointly by three Saxon thanes.
Following the Norman Conquest it passed to Countess Judith, under whom it was
held by Robert de Buci. The second lordship of eight acres was held by Robert
de Veci, under whom it was worked by Goisfrid. In 1300 Edward I granted
liberty of free warren to Roger Brabazon. In 1421 the two manors came into the
ownership of John Griffin, remaining in the hands of his descendants until the
19th century. An estate map dated to the early 19th century indicates that the
hollow way finally fell into disuse following the construction of Gumley Hall
in 1764, although abandonment of the settlement probably began many centuries

All fences, huts, cattle grids, the war memorial and the modern surfaces of
all roads and pathways 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 East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province,
an area characterised in the Middle Ages by large numbers of nucleated
settlements. The sites of many of these settlements are now occupied by modern
villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by
earthwork remains. Most of these settlements were first documented in the 11th
century, in Domesday Book. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater
variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with
the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval,
others may represent much older farming landscapes.
The Soar Valley and Nene Plateau local region comprises the low hill country
of the Soar Valley and, to the south east, a low plateau dissected by the
tributaries of the Nene and Welland. Nucleated villages and hamlets dominate
the region, but gaps are found within the pattern in Rockingham Forest, in
Rutland and in High Leicestershire where they are linked to the location of
woodland in and before the 11th century.

Medieval villages were the organised agricultural communities, sited at the
centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land,
meadow and woodland. Village plans vary enormously, but when they survive as
earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings and small enclosed
paddocks. In the Central Province of England, villages were the most
distinctive aspect of medieval life, 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.

Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were divided into
strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced
long, wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is
the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual
strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning-points. Furlongs were in turn grouped into
large open fields. Well preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original
context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of
information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the
character of the historic landscape.

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction dates back to the 12th century, following the introduction of
rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number of
purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries. The
mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels to
facilitate drainage. A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow
mounds. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall to contain and
protect the stock. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their
association with other classes of monument, including various forms of
settlement and field systems, and may provide evidence of the economy of
estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered worthy of

Gumley medieval settlement remains, warren and field systems 600m south west
of the Church of St Helen survive particularly well as a series of earthworks
and buried deposits. The areas of settlement and the rabbit warren have
remained largely undisturbed since their abandonment with the result that the
survival of archaeological deposits relating to their occupation and use is
likely to be good. The deposits will contain information about the dating,
layout and economy of the settlement, and in the case of the warren, an
insight into its design and function. Together with contemporary documents
relating to the site, this will provide a good opportunity to understand the
mechanisms underlying the development and eventual contraction of the village.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Liddle, P, Leicestershire Archaeology: The Present State of Knowledge, (1982)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1798)
Hartley, R F, (1986)
Leicestershire County Council, SP 69 SE AB,
Leicestershire County Council, SP 69 SE AW,
RCHME, NMR Printout: SP 69 SE 34,
Title: Lands of Sir Wm. Edward Craddock Hartopp Bart.
Source Date: 1852

Source: Historic England

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