Lost and Shrunken Villages in Lincolnshire

When looking at medieval settlement remains in the Lincolnshire landscape, people often look at the shrunken and deserted villages. As a monument, these lost villages can be fascinating places where you can walk down the medieval street looking at the banks and mounds that indicate the positions of medieval houses and yards.

The deserted medieval village of Gainsthorpe (Picture: English Heritage)

The desertion of settlements is a process that has been going on for many thousands of years and is still going on today. However, medieval shrinkage and desertion has left a particularly tangible mark upon the landscape. This is in part due to the circumstances that caused settlements to shrink and be abandoned, and partly to the agricultural economy in the centuries that followed.

Except for specific circumstances when settlements were relocated by landowners, it is generally accepted that the period of decline and abandonment of medieval villages came in the 14th century and was due to the combination of a number of deleterious circumstances.