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Frisby medieval village remains

A Scheduled Monument in Frisby, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6076 / 52°36'27"N

Longitude: -0.9589 / 0°57'32"W

OS Eastings: 470596.149954

OS Northings: 301600.552293

OS Grid: SK705016

Mapcode National: GBR BQQ.JCM

Mapcode Global: WHFKR.7QM9

Entry Name: Frisby medieval village remains

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018579

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30247

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Frisby

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Gaulby Group

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes the remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of
Frisby, 300m east of Frisby House Farm.

The remains take the form of a series of earthworks and buried features
located in relation to a hollow way which runs north east from the Frisby-
Rolleston road for approximately 100m. A series of sub-rectangular
agricultural enclosures or crofts of varying size are defined by linear banks
and depressions immediately north of the hollow way. On the eastern side of
the crofts is a pond approximately 30m in length and 12m in width marked by a
semi-waterfilled rectangular depression. The pond fed into a drainage ditch on
the line of the present field boundary via a small leat in its eastern corner
which survives as a short linear depression. A pair of broad parallel ditches
running into the north western corner of the pond would have supplied it with
water. The location of a large building adjacent to the southern side of the
hollow way is represented by a rectangular platform 60m by 30m. Immediately
south east of the platform is an area of medieval cultivation in the form of
ridge and furrow measuring approximately 100m by 50m. A sunken trackway a
maximum of 7m in width runs from the hollow way on a north east axis for 130m
before curving east to run into a second hollow way, 100m in length, 16m in
width and aligned on a north-south axis. The second hollow way turns sharply
east for 40m at its southern end to follow the contour of the hillside. A
number of tofts and crofts adjacent to the northern side of the trackway are
defined by a further series of small sub-rectangular enclosures and platforms.
Two additional ponds are located within this area of settlement. The larger,
southernmost pond consists of a dry rectangular depression 10m by 20m located
at the intersection of the first hollow way and the sunken trackway.

Immediately south west of the trackway are two field boundaries comprised of
parallel ditches up to 2m in width. A further trackway approximately 5m in
width runs parallel with and 15m south east of the field boundaries. A
rectangular embanked platform at the intersection between the second hollow
way and the southernmost field boundary marks the location of a further
building, whilst the presence of another structure is suggested by a platform
located at the intersection of the trackway and the second hollow way.

The hamlet was recorded in the Domesday survey as Frisebi, being held by Hugh
de Grentesmainell as part of the manor of Gaulby. The etymology of the name,
meaning `the farm of the Frisians', suggests that the settlement had
Anglo-Saxon origins. The matriculus of Bishop Welles in 1220 mentions that
Gaulby church then had a chapel at Frisby dedicated to St James. Although
made reference to in a will of 1532, by 1591 the chapel no longer stood.
Documentary records indicate that the settlement itself had begun to decline
during the 15th century. Sixteen families were recorded in the poll tax
returns for 1381, ten were listed in the hay subsidy of 1524, but only eight
remained in 1564. By 1831 the number of households had further reduced to just

All fences, feed troughs and electricity poles are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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 East Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province,
an area characterised in the Middle Ages by large numbers of nucleated
settlements. The sites of many of these settlements are now occupied by modern
villages, but others have been partially or wholly deserted and are marked by
earthwork remains. Most of these settlements were first documented in the 11th
century, in Domesday Book. The southern part of the sub-Province has greater
variety of settlement, with dispersed farmsteads and hamlets intermixed with
the villages. Whilst some of the dispersed settlements are post-medieval,
others may represent much older farming landscapes.
The Soar Valley and Nene Plateau local region comprises the low hill country
of the Soar Valley and, to the south east, a low plateau dissected by the
tributaries of the Nene and Welland. Nucleated villages and hamlets dominate
the region, but gaps are found within the pattern in Rockingham Forest, in
Rutland and in High Leicestershire where they are linked to the location of
woodland in and before the 11th century.

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 include the parish church within
their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages include one
or more manorial centres. 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. 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.

The remains of the deserted areas of the medieval settlement of Frisby survive
particularly well as a series of substantial earthworks. They remain largely
undisturbed with the result that the preservation of archaeological deposits
is likely to be good, and these will provide an insight into the economy,
development and eventual decline of the hamlet. Organic deposits relating to
the use of the settlement are likely to survive in the area of the ponds 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
hamlet which will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the
nature of medieval settlement in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester
Hoskins, W G, 'Transactions of the Leics Archaeological and Historical Society' in A Short History of Galby and Frisby, , Vol. Vol 22, (1944)
Hartley, R F, (1981)
Holyoak, V, (1997)
RCHME, NMR Printout: SK 70 SW 4,

Source: Historic England

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