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Dunsby medieval village

A Scheduled Monument in Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0491 / 53°2'56"N

Longitude: -0.4496 / 0°26'58"W

OS Eastings: 504024.089819

OS Northings: 351331.392631

OS Grid: TF040513

Mapcode National: GBR FPZ.TBP

Mapcode Global: WHGK0.2M5B

Entry Name: Dunsby medieval village

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1974

Last Amended: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018395

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22738

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Leasingham St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of Dunsby, a medieval settlement established
before the late 11th century and largely deserted by the late 16th century.
First recorded in the Domesday Book, Dunsby developed as a nucleated
settlement from the 11th to the 13th centuries and thereafter became gradually
depopulated. At one time a possession of the Knights Hospitaller, the manor
was purchased after the Dissolution of the monasteries by Robert Carre of
Sleaford who evicted the remaining tenants and turned the land over to sheep
rearing. Then called `Cold Dunsby', most of the buildings, including the
church, were demolished, although the manor house continued to be occupied by
members of the Carre and Death families until the Civil War. After this date
the standing ruins were dismantled. The remains of the settlement now take the
form of earthworks and buried archaeological deposits.

The remains of the settlement of Dunsby occupy a south-facing slope on the
limestone heath south of Lincoln. The earthwork and buried remains of
dwellings and associated buildings lie in the western part of the monument
where a series of earth covered banks, up to 1m in height and containing the
remains of stone walls, delineate a group of rectangular enclosures. Within
these enclosures in the north western part of the monument are the remains of
small buildings, thought to represent dwellings and outbuildings. These
features are now separated from the central part of the monument by a trackway
which crosses the monument on an east-west alignment, passing through the
northern part of a square enclosure which is believed to represent a yard or
garden. On the south and east sides of this enclosure are substantial
earth covered building remains standing up to 1.8m in height; these are
believed to include the remains of the manor house which was occupied until
the mid-17th century. The remains of the Church of St Andrew, known from
documentary sources, may be located on the south side of the enclosure. In
the northern part of the enclosure are the remains of a row of small buildings
believed to represent service buildings associated with the manor house; the
trackway which now passes in front of them may therefore be seen to follow the
course of the former entrance to the manor house complex. Further building
remains in the centre of the monument, immediately to the south east of the
principal buildings, may represent the remains of an associated yard and

Adjacent to the east of the area of building remains are two large rectangular
enclosures delineated by earthen banks. The enclosure in the north eastern
part of the monument is bounded on the north by a raised bank about 6m wide,
on the east by a stone-filled bank 4m wide, and on the west by the
earth covered remains of a stone wall; the remains of another stone wall
separate it on the south from the second enclosure, which immediately adjoins
the remains of the manor house and is bounded on the south by a low earthen
bank. Both enclosures are believed to have originated in the medieval period
as areas of cultivation or paddocks which were reused in the 16th and 17th
centuries within the gardens of the manor house.

In the southern part of the monument the ground slopes steeply to the south.
Running down the slope from the area of building remains is a linear ditch,
0.5m in depth, which terminates in an oval pond. On the eastern side of this
channel, which is now dry, are the earthwork remains of medieval ridge and
furrow cultivation, and to the west is a further enclosure including a raised
rectangular earthwork which is also thought to be associated with the gardens
of the manor house. To the south of the pond is a broad, shallow depression
running approximately east-west, representing a former water course. On the
south side of the depression are further remains of ridge and furrow
cultivation associated with the medieval settlement.

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.
The Lincoln Edge local region comprises a long, narrow limestone ridge, flat-
topped and running north to south. Chains of medieval village settlement
sites, some deserted and some still occupied in whole or part, are found often
at intervals of about 1.5km. They line the foot of the scarp to the west and
the dip-slope to the east.

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 minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed
crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish
church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most
villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as
visible remains as well as below ground deposits. 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.

The remains of the medieval village of Dunsby survive well in the form of a
substantial series of earthworks. The remains of buildings and enclosures
have been little altered since they were abandoned, with the result that
underlying archaeological deposits will survive relatively intact. Evidence
for domestic, social and agricultural activites on the site will therefore be
preserved. Artefactual and ecofactual remains will provide a valuable insight
into the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the appearance of the landscape in
which they lived, together with evidence for the establishment, development
and gradual depopulation of the settlement throughout the medieval and
post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England

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