Special status for village

Ashby St Ledgers
Ashby St Ledgers

The village of Ashby St Ledgers has been designated as a scheduled ancient monument by the government.

Ashby, as it was originally called, has historical links with the Gunpodwer Plot and was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when the village had a population of 24.

It is one of several deserted and shrunken medieval villages in Northamptonshire that have been designated as scheduled monuments by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of English Heritage.

They are among the best-preserved lost villages in the county and have been chosen for special protection because of the exceptional survival of their earthworks and buried remains, revealing the layout of the settlements as well as the ways in which their shape and size changed over the centuries.

Others in the district include Walgrave, Clipston and former village of Little Oxendon.

Many of these villages have been occupied continuously, though some have declined in size or were deserted during the medieval or post-medieval periods.

At Ashby St Ledgers the evidence does not indicate a marked drop in the population of the village at any time so the currently abandoned areas marked by the earthworks are more likely to indicate people moving away.

Aerial photography of the earthworks and buried features in the villages, along with surveys and documented discoveries of artefacts, can tell archaeologists and historians much about life in medieval Northamptonshire.

The earthworks have lain largely undisturbed by later occupation since the villages were deserted and then often used for grazing.

Their archaeological remains have the potential to reveal many more details about the social and economic development of these communities, and the physical earthworks themselves allow people today to experience the spaces in which their medieval ancestors farmed and made their homes in the English landscape.

Sarah Gibson, English Heritage’s designation team leader for the east, said: “Northamptonshire’s abandoned villages are repositories of information about the past and archaeologists will be able to use the remains of the villages to tell us more about the social life and economy of Northamptonshire many hundreds of years ago.”

Councillor Alan Chantler, Daventry District Council’s strategic planning portfolio holder, said: “We welcome the Government’s decision to give special protection to these lost villages, most of which are located in Daventry district.

“It’s great news for our district and Northamptonshire as a whole and further recognises the historical importance of our area and its rich, varied heritage.

“Protecting our heritage is a priority for the Council and we are currently embarking on a major review of conservation areas across our District.”

In Daventry district there are over 1,500 listed buildings, 23 conservation areas in the District, more than 50 scheduled monuments, 11 registered parks and gardens, an historic battlefield and 500 Tree Preservation Order files (some covering woodlands or groups of trees).