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Authority Historic England
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 443
Date assigned Monday, February 15, 1999
Date last amended


REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the West Midland Plateau sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, which is marked by a series of low plateaux and escarpments, often with rather sandy soils, and great clay vales containing alluvial and gravel terraces. Still well wooded in 1086, the area embraced forests such as Kinver, Feckenham, Cannock and Arden. Compared with the land to the east, the area had significantly lower numbers of nucleations and, with the exception of the Severn valley, carried a mixture of medium to very high densities of dispersed settlement. This included diverse hamlets, common-edge scatters of small farms and cottages, and isolated larger farmsteads, generally moated, many being of medieval foundation. The Upper Trent and Dove local region is marked by varied terrain. The alluvial tracts and terraces of the Trent and Dove mask a core clay lowland, with Needwood Forest forming the watershed, while to the north and south are the rising lands of Cannock Chase and the southern Pennines. It has low densities of nucleated settlement, and medium and high densities of dispersed settlement. Placenames indicate much woodland in the early Middle Ages. Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently include the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass baulks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Mapleton medieval settlement are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The earthworks and documentary sources provide a clear picture of the village layout and how it fitted within the wider medieval landscape. Taken as a whole the abandoned areas of Mapleton medieval settlement will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the area. DETAILS The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Mapleton medieval settlement and part of the open field system. The monument lies within two areas of protection. The area to the west is situated on relatively flat ground between the River Dove and Mapleton Road. The eastern area is situated on the steep west facing slope of the Dove Valley. Mapleton is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded that it was one of six berewicks belonging to the manor of Ashbourne. A berewick was a settlement which was physically separate from the village where the lord lived but was still governed as part of the manorial estate. Mapleton at this time was owned by the king and contained enough land for two plough teams of eight oxen each. The village is now, and has been for some time, part of the Okeover estate. In 1727 Rowland Okeover gave lands to trustees for the purpose of building three houses at Mapleton for clergymens' widows with an annual payment of money and coals for each widow. These buildings survive today and are situated to the north of the western half of the monument. In the field to the south east of Okeover Bridge are the remains of a large sub-rectangular platform. The platform lies on the east side of the field adjacent to Mapleton Road and is defined by low banks and ditches which survive to a height and depth of approximately 0.5m. The platform is most clearly visible from aerial photographs but the southern end of the platform has now been degraded by a modern housing development and is therefore not included in the scheduling. On an enclosure map of 1848 the field is described as `Hall Croft and outbuildings'. From this evidence, and the nature of the earthworks, the platform is interpreted as the site of the medieval hall with the low banks created by the buried remains of walls. To the north of the platform and running in a westerly direction towards the river is a sunken track. At its western end the track turns to the north for a short distance and slopes gently down to the river just south of Okeover Bridge. It is possible that the track led to a crossing point in the river which would have been the predecessor to Okeover Bridge. A modern footpath partly follows the alignment of the sunken track. On the western side of the field and adjacent to the river are the well preserved remains of part of the medieval open field system. These are evident as ridge and furrow cultivation strips which are aligned east to west and form a single furlong (group of cultivation strips) marked by a headland. The furlong is bounded on its southern side by an ancient hedgerow. To the south of the hedgerow are the remains of a further two furlongs. The ridge and furrow is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S', a shape which developed over the years from the need to swing the plough team out at the end of a strip to enable it to turn and to continue ploughing in the opposite direction. The remains survive to a height of 0.5m. To the east of this headland, and adjacent to Mapleton Road, are the remains of three crofts or enclosures. These are defined by low banks which are created by the buried remains of walls. The size of the crofts varies in each case but are between 30m and 40m wide. Crofts are small closes adjoining to a house, used either as pasture or for arable. The position of the houses is not clearly discernible on the ground but they were probably situated adjacent to Mapleton Road in a similar layout to the existing village. The second area of protection lies on the east side of Mapleton Road. This part of the monument includes a network of sunken tracks which link the main village road to the open fields on the sides of the valley. A sunken track joins with Mapleton Road approximately 150m north of Callowend Farm and runs in an easterly direction. The western end of this track provides access to modern properties and has therefore been levelled and surfaced and is not included in the scheduling but the remainder of the track survives as an earthwork approximately 1m in depth and is included. The track continues in an easterly direction for about 250m before it meets with a track running north to south. The east to west track continues for a further 90m before it is truncated by a ploughed field. The track which runs north to south curves to the east and separates an area of scrubland lying to its east and outside the area of protection from the ridge and furrow to its west. Another sunken track, again aligned north to south, runs along the western edge of the ridge and furrow and is most clearly visible running parallel to the eastern boundary of the churchyard towards Bank Farm. The area of ridge and furrow is bounded on its northern and southern edges by wide, grass covered banks. These may have functioned as property boundaries or as dividers separating areas of pasture from arable fields so as to prevent damage to crops by animals. It is possible that the trackways not only provided people with access to the open arable fields but also acted as droveways to drive animals up hill into areas of pasture. Field names such as Skinners Flat and Milking Bank which appear on the 1848 enclosure map indicate that these fields have been used for pasture but the field names may not date to the medieval period when the ridge and furrow and open field system was in operation. All walls, fences, gates and feeding troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Page, William (ed) - Title: Victoria History of the County of Derbyshire - Date: 1905 - Page References: 339 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Lysons, Rev. D and Lysons, S. - Title: Magna Britannia. A concise topographical account of several coun - Date: 1817 - Page References: 204 - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1999. Scheduling Notification: Medieval settlement including part of open field system, 200m south of Bank Farm. List entry no. 1018871. SM Cat. No. 443.



Grid reference Centred SK 1660 4788 (598m by 479m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SK14NE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Mar 11 2024 11:59AM

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