Gainsthorpe is a deserted medieval village site in Hibaldstow parish
located on a minor road west of the A15, south of Hibaldstow and 5 miles south-west of Brigg.
The typical medieval layout of sunken roads and raised rectangular tofts and crofts is clearly seen in the humps and hollows of the field. In the south-east (bottom left) corner is the present day Gainsthorpe Farm.
Photo taken in April 1925
by Dr O.G.S Crawford from 4000ft 1
He had been told that there were Roman remains in the field, but saw at once that this could not be so and remembered an account by the curate of Broughton, Abraham de la Pryme who had described a visit to the site in his diary of 1697.
(above) a photograph of English Heritage's plaque which they have placed at the site.This day I took my horse and went to a place called Gainstrop which lies in a hollow on the right hand, and about the middle way as you come from Kirton to Scawby. Tradition says that the aforesaid Gainstrop was once a pretty large town, though now there is nothing but some of the foundations. Being upon the place I easily counted the foundations of about two hundred buildings and beheld three streets very fair. About a quarter of a mile is a place called the Church Garth............
"Tradition says that that town was, in times of yore, exceeding infamous for robberies, and that nobody inhabited there but thieves; and that the country having for a long while endured all their villanies they at last, when they could suffer them no longer, rose with one consent, and pulled the same down about their ears.
But I fancy that the town has been eaten up with time, poverty and pasturage
- Abraham de la Pryme, 1697 2
Photos of Gainsthorpe in late August 2003
Top left: looking south on the east site of the site. Gainsthorpe Farm in the distance.
Top right: A diagonal view across the site from the south-west towards the north-east.
Left: Looking south near the south-west boundary.
Gainsthorpe lost village was called ‘Gamelstorp’ in Domesday Book, 1086, where Gamal is an old Danish personal name. The change to Gain- from Gam- , which appears in the sixteenth century, might be due to a simple misreading. The name means, according to Prof Kenneth Cameron 3 , ’Gamal’s secondary settlement, outlying farmstead or hamlet’ - secondary presumably to Hibaldstow which is 3 km away to the north-east.
Gainsthorpe is not mentioned in the pioneering 1924 list of lost villages by Canon Foster 4, the vicar of Timberland, which he published as an appendix in The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey survey and this is probably because he regarded it as a Roman site and not a lost village at all.
However, as noted above, Dr O.G.S Crawford of the Ordnance Survey was prompted to take an aerial photo of the site in the following year and realised immediately that this could not be a Roman town. He remembered an account by the curate of Broughton, Abraham de la Pryme who had described a visit to the site in his diary of 1697 which includes the comment ‘…..I fancy that the town has been eaten up with time, poverty and pasturage’……
In the late 15th century wool production became relatively more profitable than that of corn and in consequence landowners converted fields from arable to pasture so sheep could be grazed. In the process, they enclosed the common fields and often evicted the peasants that had tilled them. Perhaps this is what happened to Gainsthorpe; the peasants were evicted, and they crossed back over Ermine Street and rejoined the larger settlement of Hibaldstow, leaving a deserted village for sheep to nibble and for historians to ponder.
Photos: Judy McLoughlin
1 Reproduced in Antiquaries Journal , ( 1925 ) p 30.
2 C. Jackson, (ed.), The diary of Abraham de la Pryme, the Yorkshire antiquary. Ephemeris vitŠ, or, A diary of my own life: containing an account, likewise, of the most observable and remarkable things that I have taken notice of from my youth up, hitherto. Surtees Society Vol LIV, (1870), p.127.
3 K. Cameron, with J. Field, and J. Insley, Place Names of Lincolnshire Vol 6, English Place-Name Society (2001), p.70
4 C. W. Foster, and T. Longley, (eds.) The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey survey; with an intro by F. M. Stenton ; and appendix of extinct villages by C. W. Foster. Lincoln Record Society (1924) vol. 19
Beresford M.W.'The Lost Villages of England' (1963)
Beresford M.W.'History on the Ground' (1971)
Beresford M.W. and Hurst J.G. 'Deserted Medieval Villages' (1971)
Beresford M.W. and St Joseph J.K. 'Medieval England - an Aerial Survey' (1979)
Hoskins W.G.'The Making of the English Landscape' (1988)
See also Lost villages of Nottinghamshire and Lost village of Wharram Percy
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintain'd its man;
For him light labour spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life requir'd, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose,
And every want to opulence allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful scene,
Liv'd in each look, and brighten'd all the green,--
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Oliver Goldsmith - extract from 'The Deserted Village' First Published in 1770.
It has been suggested that Goldsmith was thinking of the Oxfordshire village of Nuneham Courteney when he wrote the poem.
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