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Gumley medieval settlement remains and field systems, 620m south east of the Church of St Helen

A Scheduled Monument in Gumley, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.5035 / 52°30'12"N

Longitude: -0.9912 / 0°59'28"W

OS Eastings: 468570.031455

OS Northings: 289988.266873

OS Grid: SP685899

Mapcode National: GBR 9QQ.26Q

Mapcode Global: VHDQR.RBVN

Entry Name: Gumley medieval settlement remains and field systems, 620m south east of the Church of St Helen

Scheduled Date: 21 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017211

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30262

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 of Gumley and associated
field systems, and is situated 620m south east of the Church of St Helen.

A second area of the settlement approximately 1km to the west is the subject
of a separate scheduling. Part of the village between the two monuments is
still inhabited.

The settlement remains are orientated along a hollow way which originally
represented a main thoroughfare through the settlement. The hollow way
survives as a linear depression a maximum of 10m in width and 0.8m in depth
which runs on an east-west axis for approximately 220m before turning sharply
north east. A second section of hollow way curves from its southern side
before looping back to rejoin it. The location of a series of buildings
adjacent to the northern side of the main hollow way are marked by house
platforms which are visible as low rectangular embanked mounds. An area of
cobbling approximately 200m to the south west denotes the location of further
structures alongside a trackway leading onto the southern loop of the hollow
way. Gardens and paddocks associated with earlier buildings along the modern
Main Street are represented by a series of embanked rectangular strip
enclosures varying between 50m and 120m in length and 30m in width, the long
axes of which are orientated north east-south west. Immediately to the north
and east of the enclosures is an extensive medieval agricultural landscape
characterised by well defined ridge and furrow cultivation remains. The fields
are aligned on at least four different orientations and separated by headlands
at the end of each furlong. The fields are further sub-divided into sections
by evenly spaced baulks which run parallel to the strips.

The settlement of Gumley, or Godmundesleach in its earliest recorded form, has
a long documented history. Charters are known to have been signed here by the
Mercian kings Ethelbald in AD 749 and Offa in AD 772 and 779. At the time 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 1421 the two manors
came into the possession of John Griffin, remaining in the hands of his
descendants until at least the 19th century. An estate map dated to 1852
clearly depicts the existence of buildings and a trackway adjacent to the
southern loop of the hollow way at this time. The main section of hollow way
to the north and the buildings associated with it had already been abandoned
by this point, and represent one of the village's original main thoroughfares
which became disused following the contraction of the settlement in the later
medieval period.

All fences, gates, feed troughs, cattle grids and the modern surfaces of all
paths and trackways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

An area 80m by 25m in the northern half of the monument, which is currently in
use as a sewage works for the village, is totally excluded from the

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 such as barns, enclosed
crofts 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 and lateral grass baulks. 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.

Gumley medieval and later settlement remains and the adjoining field systems
620m south east of the Church of St Helen survive particularly well as a
series of earthworks and buried deposits. The areas of settlement have
remained largely undisturbed since their abandonment and the survival of
archaeological deposits relating to their occupation and use is likely to be
good. These deposits will contain information about the dating, layout and
economy of the settlement. Together with contemporary documents relating to
the village, this will provide a good opportunity to understand the
relationship between settlement and agriculture, and the mechanisms behind the
development, decline 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,
Title: Lands of Sir Wm. Edward Craddock Hartopp Bart.
Source Date: 1852

Source: Historic England

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