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Medieval village earthworks, fishponds and mill leat at Stonton Wyville

A Scheduled Monument in Stonton Wyville, Leicestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5481 / 52°32'52"N

Longitude: -0.9165 / 0°54'59"W

OS Eastings: 473569.108421

OS Northings: 295018.487582

OS Grid: SP735950

Mapcode National: GBR BRK.93J

Mapcode Global: VHDQM.27B0

Entry Name: Medieval village earthworks, fishponds and mill leat at Stonton Wyville

Scheduled Date: 5 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017616

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17050

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Stonton Wyville

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Stonton Wyville St Denys

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

The present village of Stonton Wyville is much smaller than its medieval
precursor. Remains of this larger medieval village survive as visible
earthworks to the north and south of the modern settlement and are included in
this monument within two separate areas.

The first area is situated on the northern side of the village and extends for
more than 200m to the north. Its most visible feature is a deep hollow way
which formed the main street through the village. In the middle of this area
this hollow way divides into two, one branch continuing north to meet with a
road still in use while the other branch runs off to the east. These hollow
ways would have provided access through the village and into its surrounding
fields. Within this area the hollow ways are flanked by earthwork banks
defining small paddocks and garden plots belonging to the village,
particularly within a rectangular area measuring approximately 80 x 50m on
the western side of the hollow way. Beyond this area, but not included in the
scheduling are areas of ridge and furrow cultivation, the medieval open fields
of the village.

The second area extends for over 300m to the south of the present village
adjacent to the medieval manor house and church. In the north of this area
lies a complex of dry fishponds which include two large rectangular ponds
measuring 125 x 20m and 100 x 16m respectively, between which lie three
smaller square ponds, that at the south-west end having a square central
island. The size and complexity of these ponds indicate that fish breeding was
a major concern in this village. The two large ponds would have been for large
growing fish, the smaller ponds for breeding. The island within one of the
small ponds would have produced a secure location, perhaps used for breeding
fowl or other animals requiring protection from predators. To the south-east
of the fishponds lie further earthwork remains of the village arranged to
front onto the modern road which preserves the medieval access road through
the village. Adjacent to the road are faint earthwork remains of building
platforms and garden enclosures along with two small circular mounds surviving
to approximately 0.5m high which are interpreted as windmill mounds.

Immediately behind these remains is a large enclosed paddock measuring 190 x
80m defined by a bank 1m high and a ditch 4m wide. The enclosure is
sub-divided by a ditch, the larger southern part showing internal evidence of
ridge and furrow cultivation. To the south-west lies an embanked mill leat
which leads to a former watermill site, now occupied by Mill Farm. A
hollow way originally ran from the mill to the village access road. Some of
the hollow way does not survive well and is not included in the scheduling. A
further enclosure to the south of this contains two further windmill mounds of
similar dimensions to those to the north.

Little is known about the history of the village other than that the major
family, the Brudnells, have held the lordship of the manor from the medieval
period down to the present day. Many of the family remains are buried in the
13th century church located in the centre of the village.

MAP EXTRACT
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
primarily devoted to farming, 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 as well as acting as the focus
of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish.
Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously
down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now
occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually
throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during
the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The
reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining
economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large
parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and
contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval
villages are recorded nationally. 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.

Frequently other monument types may be associated with a village, these may
include fishponds, watermills and associated village closes which together
sometimes form an extensive medieval complex. One of the important elements of
this are fishponds which often provide conditions favourable to the survival
of organic remains.

The village earthworks of Stonton Wyville, together with an extensive complex
of further elements, including the fishponds and mill leat, survive in good
condition and represent an excellent example of a shrunken medieval
settlement. Although part of the village has continued in use to the modern
day, with consequent disturbance to the earlier remains, the two areas of the
scheduling comprise parts on the north and south of the complex which,
importantly, include house plots and gardens, a complex of fishponds clearly
indicating large scale fish farming and which will provide information on the
water management system. The fishponds are extremely well preserved and are
amongst the best examples in the country. Together, the various features
provide significant evidence of changing emphasis in the patterns of economic
activity of settlements in the medieval landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume I, (1907), 274
Pevsner, N, Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (1984), 397-8

Source: Historic England

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