Ancient Monuments

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Rabbit warren on Warren Hills

A Scheduled Monument in Castle Rock, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.7312 / 52°43'52"N

Longitude: -1.3215 / 1°19'17"W

OS Eastings: 445910.9485

OS Northings: 315052.1673

OS Grid: SK459150

Mapcode National: GBR 7JQ.NPV

Mapcode Global: WHDHV.NMW2

Entry Name: Rabbit warren on Warren Hills

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018001

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30241

County: Leicestershire

Electoral Ward/Division: Castle Rock

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: St James the Greater, Oaks in Charnwood,

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument consists of earthworks defining eight pillow mounds of linear
form and an associated sub-circular enclosure. The monument is located on the
northern slopes and summit of Warren Hills. The four mounds on the lower
north western slopes are orientated between the north west-south east and
north-south. Those around the summit are orientated between the east-west and
south west-north east. The pillow mounds are sub-rectangular in plan and vary
in size between 15m and 23m in length, 7m and 10m in width and 0.7m to 1.5m in
height. All are surrounded by an external ditch up to a maximum of 1.5m in
width and up to 0.4m in depth. The enclosure consists of a low stony bank up
to 2.5m in width and 0.2m in height enclosing a sub-circular area a maximum of
27m in diameter. A gap in the northern side of the bank up to 1.5m in width is
considered to represent the original entrance. The enclosure is thought to
have been for the use of the warrener, probably containing a structure for the
storage of equipment.

Documentary sources indicate that the warren was located within the manor of
Whitwick, the area being referred to from as early as 1754 on maps as Warren
Hill. An additional document dated to 1800 makes reference to a dispute in
1748, at which point there were described as being five major warrens in the
area, one of which belonged to the Earl of Huntingdon. Since the manor of
Whitwick is known to have been granted in trust for Henry, Earl of Huntingdon
by James I in around 1612, it is therefore considered likely that the warren
on Warren Hills was that of the Earl and his descendents.

All walls and the surfaces of pathways are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 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 rabbit warren on Warren Hills survives particularly well as a series of
substantial earthworks. The structure of the mounds and the enclosure remain
largely undisturbed with the result that the preservation of buried deposits
relating to their construction and use will be good. In addition, the
waterlogged nature of many of the ditches surrounding the pillow mounds will
provide a high potential for the survival of organic remains containing
environmental evidence relating to their period of use. As a result of the
survival of both historical documentation relating to the sites and subsequent
archaeological survey, the remains are quite well understood and will provide
a good opportunity for understanding the nature and function of purpose-built

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Farnham, G F, Charnwood Forest and its Historians and the Charnwood Manors, (1930)
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of North-West Leicestershire, (1984)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1800)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1800)
Hurst, A.J.K., 1:1000 Survey, (1979)
Hurst, A.J.K., 1:1000, (1979)
Hurst, A.J.K., 1:2500 Survey, (1979)
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 41 NE.P, 41 SE.AD,
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 41 NE.P, 41 SE.AD,
Leicestershire County Council, Site Summary Sheet 41 NE.P, 41 SE.AD,
Liddle, P, (1997)
Source Date: 1754

Source Date: 1777

Whylde, Thomas, (1754)

Source: Historic England

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