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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 240
Date assigned Monday, June 14, 1976
Date last amended Wednesday, July 7, 1999


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 the medieval settlement of Lower Thurvaston are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The earthworks and aerial photographs provide a clear picture of the village layout and how it fitted within the wider agricultural landscape. Taken as a whole the medieval settlement remains of Lower Thurvaston will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development and decline of medieval settlement in the area. DETAILS The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Lower Thurvaston medieval settlement and part of the open field system. The monument is situated on a south facing slope which runs down towards the currently inhabited area of Lower Thurvaston. Lower Thurvaston is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. At this time the village was in the possession of Henry de Ferieres, the lord of Longueville in Normandy, who was the largest landholder in Derbyshire. Elfin, an Englishman, held the manor for the lord. The village was called Torverdestune and is listed in the Domesday Book with Budedune (now known as Bupton) where they were valued at twenty shillings. It is recorded that there was enough agricultural land for one plough team (eight oxen), twenty acres of meadow and a little underwood. A sunken road runs north east to south west through the monument and forms the focus of the settlement remains. The road (Thurvaston Lane) serves as the main communication link between Thurvaston and Lower Thurvaston. The position of the settlement remains along the east and west sides of the road indicates that it was linear in design. This pattern is reflected in the layout of the currently inhabited area of the village to the south of the monument. At the northern end of the monument and to the west of the sunken road is a large terraced platform measuring approximately 100m north east to south west and 50m north west to south east. The platform is subdivided by ditches into four enclosures measuring approximately 50m by 25m. The dividing ditches are approximately 10m wide and survive to a depth of 0.5m. Abutting the terrace on its northern edge and running north west from Thurvaston Lane across the monument is a second sunken track. The trackway survives to a depth of approximately 1m and is lined by hedgerows. The trackway follows the line of the modern field boundary and continues to the north western edge of the monument. The curve of the field boundary in the shape of an elongated reverse `S' is a common feature of boundaries which follow the line of medieval ridge and furrow. Clearly defined ridge and furrow running north-south survives to the south of the sunken track and adjacent to the platform. To the west and north of the scheduling the ridge and furrow runs east-west and is visible only as soil marks on aerial photographs. It would appear that the second sunken track formed a back lane which provided access to these fields. Approximately 100m to the south of the platform and adjacent to Thurvaston Lane are two large rectangular features. The northernmost example is sunken, measuring approximately 20m by 26m, and is situated at a kink in the road where the bank of Thurvaston Lane is less pronounced than elsewhere. It is possible it was accessible directly from the road. Post-medieval quarrying activity has disturbed this feature. The second rectangular area measures approximately 33m by 24m. Again this is evident as a large sunken area but at its western end is a clearly defined platform measuring approximately 19m by 4m. The platform survives to a height of about 1.5m above the sunken area and is defined on its northern and western edges by a shallow gully. Its southern and eastern sides drop directly into the sunken area. The platform is interpreted as the site of a medieval building or croft, with the banks which define the platform representing the buried remains of walls. To the east of Thurvaston Lane and approximately 10m south of Mount Farm is a large oval shaped sunken area. The depression, which is interpreted as a pond, survives to a depth of approximately 0.5m at its southern end and is now dry. The northern end has been dug out to recreate a pond. Approximately 10m to the south west of the pond is a large rectangular platform defined by low banks and ditches which survive to a height of 0.5m. The platform is interpreted as the site of another medieval building with the banks representing the buried remains of walls. The bank defining the southern edge of the building platform continues in an easterly direction for approximately 70m, where it forms the northern boundary of a large rectangular enclosure and eventually links to an area of ridge and furrow. Some disturbance of this bank is evident at its eastern end where parts have been levelled to allow access for farm machinery. Between the building platform and Thurvaston Lane is an irregularly shaped sunken area. This survives to a depth of 0.5m, extends to the south for approximately 80m, and contains two low mounds. Some post-medieval quarrying activity has disturbed the earthworks but the remains indicate that this was originally a sunken track possibly providing access to the building from the main village street. The enclosure to the south east of the building platform measures approximately 65m by 35m and has a relatively flat interior. Further enclosures of similar form are evident in the field to the east of Mount Farm but here the earthworks are less clearly defined. It would appear that this area of pasture has been improved and this has resulted in the slight degradation of the earthworks. The remainder of the monument includes the well preserved remains of the medieval open field system. The surviving remains are visible as parts of seven furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow which is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S'. The field remains survive to a height of 0.3m. The area of ridge and furrow to the south of Mount Farm and south of the large enclosure is interrupted by a deep, sub-triangular pond. This is now dry. In recent years it has acted as a sump for drainage from the cow shed to the north. All modern fencing, track and road surfaces and feeding troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Page, W - Title: Victoria History of the County of Derby - Date: 1907 - Volume: 2 - Type: DESC TEXT Other Reference - Author: Hart, C - Title: Sites and Monuments Record Derbyshire - Date: 1984 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Source No. 3

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1976. Scheduling Notification: Lower Thurvaston medieval settlement, including part of the open field system. List entry no. 1017362. SM Cat. No. 240.



Grid reference Centred SK 2309 3706 (489m by 580m)
Map sheet SK23NW

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Sep 26 2013 9:33AM

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