Ancient Monuments

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Rabbit warren 180m north east of The Lawn

A Scheduled Monument in Lubbesthorpe, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6128 / 52°36'45"N

Longitude: -1.2294 / 1°13'45"W

OS Eastings: 452276.170974

OS Northings: 301944.921916

OS Grid: SK522019

Mapcode National: GBR 8MQ.210

Mapcode Global: WHDJH.2LVB

Entry Name: Rabbit warren 180m north east of The Lawn

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018000

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30239

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Lubbesthorpe

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Enderby with Lubbesthorpe St John Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes the remains of a medieval rabbit warren 180m north east
of The Lawn.

A series of three to four amorphous earthwork mounds situated upon a natural
sandy ridge define a warren covering an area a maximum of 73m by 123m, with
the long axis orientated approximately NNW-SSE. The warren reaches a maximum
height of 3m in the north eastern corner. Two linear depressions divide the
individual mounds. The first is roughly `T'-shaped in plan, 7m in width and
runs from the centre of the southern end for approximately 50m on a NNW-SSE
axis. The second is 3.5m in width and runs for 30m on an east-west axis from
the north western corner of the monument.

Documentary sources indicate that the warren was situated within Leicester
Forest. The forest stretched from Birstall to Earl Shilton and belonged to the
Earls of Leicester before reverting back to the ownership of the Crown. A
document dated to 1280 states that there were then no warrens within
Lubbesthorpe, suggesting that the monument came into use after this time. A
map of 1835 names the area east of The Lawn as `Old Warren', which is
considered to be a clear reference to the existence of the monument, and
indicates that the warren had probably fallen out of use by the start of the
19th century.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 and use dates from 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,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also
merit protection.

The remains of the warren 180m north east of The Lawn survive particularly
well as a series of substantial earthworks. The site has remained largely
under pasture with little disturbance, with the result that the preservation
of buried deposits relating to the construction and use of the warren will be
good. The remains represent a rare surviving example of the large scale
adaptation of a natural feature for warrening within an area of otherwise
intensive cultivation. The remains of the warren are quite well understood and
will allow an insight into an important aspect of the medieval and later
agricultural economy.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fox, L, Russell, P, Leicester Forest, (1948)
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Central Leicestershire, (1989)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquity of the County of Leicester, (1807)
Harvey, John, (1997)
Source Date: 1835

Source Date: 1881

Source: Historic England

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