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Medieval settlement remains immediately east of The Wymeshead

A Scheduled Monument in Kegworth, Leicestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8325 / 52°49'57"N

Longitude: -1.2744 / 1°16'27"W

OS Eastings: 448979.801548

OS Northings: 326360.468213

OS Grid: SK489263

Mapcode National: GBR 7HM.GLR

Mapcode Global: WHDHH.D2CB

Entry Name: Medieval settlement remains immediately east of The Wymeshead

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018359

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30243

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Kegworth

Built-Up Area: Kegworth

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Kegworth St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

The monument includes the remains of medieval habitation representing areas of
abandonment caused by the shifting and expansion of settlement northwards to
form the present town of Kegworth and is situated immediately east of The
Wymeshead on the western bank of the River Soar.

The remains take the form of a series of earthworks and buried features
principally centred upon two hollow ways or main thoroughfares through the
settlement which survive as linear depressions. The first hollow way is a
maximum of 10m in width, 1m in depth and runs for approximately 140m on an
east-west axis before curving northwards for a further 50m to terminate at the
western bank of the River Soar. The second hollow way is situated 60m north of
the first and runs parallel with it for 40m before widening into a broad,
rectangular depression up to 30m in width and 1m in depth. Both hollow ways
appear to be orientated towards a particularly shallow section of the Soar,
and are therefore thought to originally have led to a fording point over the
river. Three small rectangular embanked enclosures a maximum of 20m in length
and 10m in width adjoining the northern side of the southern hollow way are
the remains of house platforms or crofts. Linear banks adjoining the southern
edge of the hollow way and running on an approximate north-south axis form
three adjacent rectangular enclosures or closes, probably delineating areas of
cultivation. The western enclosure is a maximum of 50m square and overlies
evidence of medieval agriculture in the form of ridge and furrow cultivation,
a representative sample of which continuing south beyond the enclosure is
included in the scheduling. The two enclosures immediately to the east are
each up to 40m in width and 70m in length, their long axes being orientated
approximately north-south. Two sub-rectangular mounds situated at the northern
end of each enclosure are thought to be contemporary with the settlement
remains. The largest mound, approximately 15m in length, 7m in width and 1m in
height and located within the central enclosure is believed to be a medieval
rabbit warren. The second mound is only 6m in length and 0.2m in height, and
is thought to be a further house platform. Two other mounds flanking the
southern hollow way in close proximity to the river are thought to be
additional rabbit warrens. The largest of these, immediately west of the
hollow way is up to 18m in length, 4m in width, 0.7m high and is surrounded by
a ditch 1.5m wide. A series of faint linear ridges approximately 60m south of
the warrens flanking the hollow way form several rectangular enclosures
probably representing closes or paddocks. A sub-circular depression up to 25m
in diameter close to the western bank of the river is believed to be an
embanked pond. A linear bank running for 70m on a NNW-SSE axis from the
southern side of the pond represents a later field boundary as does a similar
bank running roughly parallel and situated 30m west at the foot of a natural
scarp. A small sub-rectangular cut approximately 5m square and 0.3m in depth
in the top of this scarp is thought to indicate the location of a further
medieval structure.

Kegworth was listed as Cogeworde in the Domesday survey of 1086, and is known
to have been held by Harold Godwinson prior to his coronation and subsequent
death at the battle of Hastings in 1066. Following the Conquest the manor
passed to Earl Hugh of Chester and was held under him by Robert. The manor
remained in the hands of the Earls of Chester, through the Crown, until at
least the 15th century. In 1289 a weekly market was granted to Kegworth by
Edward I, and the subsequent expansion of the town appears principally to have
been due to trade, its position alongside a permanent crossing over the Soar
enabling it to function as a market for goods from both northern
Leicestershire and southern Nottinghamshire. The importance of the crossing
was recognised in 1316 by taxation levied upon all goods crossing Kegworth
bridge, the funds being used to pay for its upkeep and repair.

Documentary sources record the discovery of an Anglo-Saxon linked disc-headed
pin of probable 9th century date immediately south of the Hermitage during the
1914-18 war. The pin is believed to have come from a destroyed burial mound,
and suggests that the area was already a focus for settlement in the early
medieval period. Additional finds have included a 15th-16th century kidney
dagger within the hollow way alongside the river, suggesting that occupation
of the area continued for a considerable time.

All fences, feed troughs and the brick drainage culvert feeding into the river
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features
is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where
the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain
by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial
deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle
variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and
hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations
suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province
there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some
of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of
farms out of earlier villages.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks
their most distinguishing features include roads and tracks, platforms on
which stood houses and 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 produced long, wide ridges and
the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious
physical indication of the open field system. 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. The tradition of warren construction 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. The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying
channels or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. Although
relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other
classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, field systems and
fishponds.

The remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of Kegworth survive
particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks. They remain largely
undisturbed and the preservation of archaeological deposits is likely to be
good. Organic remains relating to the use of the settlement are likely to
survive in the area of the pond and will provide information about the
environment in which it was established. The diversity of the archaeological
remains compliment the existing documentary evidence and together provide a
rare historical sequence for the village which will add greatly to our
knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the
area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of Central Leicestershire, (1984)
Other
Farnham, G.F., Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes, 1933,
Leicestershire Museums Service, Site Summary Sheet: 42NE.AN,
RCHME, NMR Short Report: UID 315256,

Source: Historic England

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