Land of Ramsey Abbey

Domesday Book Entries

The extracts below are from the Domesday Book which was compiled in 1086.  It shows the amount of land, churches, priests, and villagers at the time owned by the Abbey of St Benedicts Ramsey.(Ref 3) I have put all this information onto Google Earth, which will give you a visual interpretation of the amount of land Ramsey Abbey owned. You will need Google Earth installed to view the data, then you can follow this link.

Ramsey is not mentioned in the Domesday Book itself. This was probably because of the early privileged area of the Abbey the Banlieu, nominally the distance of a league around the Abbey taken from the high altar of the Abbey church itself. This would have taken in the whole of Ramsey, and because of Edgar’s charter Ramsey would have belonged to the Abbey. Another important point is, Ramsey as a town didn’t exist as such, until the 12th century. (Ref 27)

The land measurements used  are as follows:

Hide – a unit of land measurement, reckoned at 120 acres, but often different in practice, a unit of tax measurement, often differing from the cultivated hides.

Caracutes – Normally the equivalent of a Hide , in former Danish areas

Virgate ( Virgata ) – fraction of a hide, usually a quarter, notional 30 acres.

Leuga (League ) – a measure of length, probably about a mile and a half.

Banlieu (banleuca, leucata, leugata or lowey)

Hundreds of Huntingdonshire

The Hundred was a district within a shire, whose assembly of notables and village representatives usually met about once a month. The map on the left shows the boundry lines for the four Hundreds. Click on the map to see a larger image.

Huntingdonshire was split into four Hundreds: Shown below.  Click on the links to get more information about the land Ramsey Abbey owned.



Norman Cross


Hundreds of Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire was split into at least fourteen Hundreds, with the Isle of Ely having two Hundreds as well.

The Hundreds listed below are the ones that contained land belonging to Ramsey Abbey.








Other Land Owned









Total Land of Ramsey Abbey

The total amount of land shown on the maps, and the land that lies in other Shires comes to approximately 40,380 Acres based on the 120 acre hide. This is more than likely not all the Land owned.

Ramsey also had valuable fisheries – those of Hunts. being worth 10 pounds in 1066, and the Abbey had  32 “ burgesses” in Huntingdon, and 1 toft in Northampton towns.

So we see that Ramsey Abbey lived up to its name of “Ramsey the Rich

The average annual income for a smallholder was 6s at the time of Domesday.
So a wealthy aristocrat’s estates might bring in several hundred pounds a year – the equivalent in purchasing power in 2000 of say £2 or £3 million per annum.

To get some sort of idea of the amount of land involved I have tried to find out about the present Counties biggest land owners total acreage.

According to information found on the Internet the current Lord De Ramsey’s farming business farms 6500 Acres land but has other agricultural, commercial and Industrial lettings.

Ramsey Abbey’s land holdings in 1086 made them a very wealthy landowners indeed.