REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community primarily devoted to farming, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community as well as acting as the focus of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval villages are recorded nationally. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.
The shrunken village remains at Thurvaston are extremely well-preserved and provide evidence of a pattern of decline and desertion seen throughout this part of Derbyshire in the countryside flanking the line of the Roman road now known as Long Lane. The moated house site, which also survives well, is a good example of this class of monument and would have been the manorial centre of the village. Around 6000 moats are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally waterfilled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide favourable conditions for the survival of organic remains.
The monument includes a moated site and other remains of the shrunken medieval village at Thurvaston. The moated site comprises a rectangular platform 1.5m high surrounded by a moat 1m deep which varies between 6m and 9m wide. The platform measures 22m from north to south by 18m from east to west and would have been the site of a medieval timber framed hall. A 5m wide causeway onto the platform crosses the moat from the north at the north west corner while, joining the moat from the west at the south west corner, is a 3m wide leat or drain. To the west, this feature is truncated by the modern road. The village remains extend to the south and north of the moated site and also existed to the west, where they have been disturbed by the road and other modern development. East of the area of the scheduling, there originally lay the crofts or home-fields of the houses on the eastern side of the medieval village. These survive as part of the modern field system of Thurvaston Farm but are not included in the scheduling. The area south of the moat contains numerous building platforms divided by narrow sunken trackways, with a wider sunken track winding south through the centre of the area to a level green. West of the moat is a banked enclosure interpreted as the stackyard of the moated hall while, extending northwards and parallel with the modern road, is the main street through the centre of the medieval village. This is flanked by further platforms and enclosures. However, on the west side these only partially survive due to the modern road. On the east side they are well- preserved and represent the sites of tofts; that is, the yards of individual homesteads containing the buried remains of a house and outbuildings. Roughly 100m north of the moat, the main street forks around another group of building platforms which lie to the south of a level area interpreted as another green. The east fork of the road can be seen to level out near this green, but it is not clear where the west fork led as it now ends behind modern housing. Further building platforms are arranged around the north green and may previously have extended into the area now occupied by Thurvaston Farm. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern boundary fencing and walls, all farm gates, the animal shelter at the north end of the monument and five telegraph poles, together with their stays, but the ground beneath these features is included.
Book Reference - Author: Craven, M. and Drage, C. - Title: Moated Site List - Date: 1982 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: SMR