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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 489
Date assigned Wednesday, May 9, 2001
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 the medieval settlement of Callow are well-preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The earthworks, aerial photographs and documentary evidence provide a clear indication of the village layout and how it fitted within the wider agricultural landscape. Taken as a whole the medieval settlement of Callow will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development and subsequent shrinkage of medieval settlement in the area. DETAILS The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Callow medieval settlement. The monument is aligned east to west and is situated at 240m above sea level on a south facing slope to the south of Callow Lane. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it is documented that Callow was held by the king and contained two carucates of land. A carucate was approximately 120 acres, an area large enough for a plough team of eight oxen. The settlement was one of several berewicks belonging to Wirksworth manor. 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. A moated site lies approximately 200m south east of the monument and is protected by a separate scheduling. This would have served as a prestigious home probably for someone who was appointed by the king to govern the settlement. The monument survives as a series of earthworks which, at its western end, appear as a series of rectangular enclosures lying side by side at right angles to Callow Lane. The enclosures are interpreted as crofts or small holdings and front onto a wide, shallow gully which runs north to south through the monument. The gully is interpreted as a sunken track. A total of five crofts are defined by a series of banks which survive up to 0.5m in height and represent the buried remains of walls. The layout is most clearly seen from aerial photographs where smaller rectangular features are evident within some of the enclosures. The smaller features are interpreted as the sites of medieval buildings or tofts. A second series of crofts, again lying at right angles to Callow Lane, are visible to the east of the footpath which crosses the monument from north to south. The footpath continues on the north side of Callow Lane where it follows an existing sunken track. Aerial photographs indicate that the sunken track continued to the south but in the area of protection and further south the trackway has been infilled and is only just visible on the ground surface as a shallow gully. A total of three crofts are evident fronting onto the sunken track and again these contain smaller rectangular features interpreted as tofts. A third group of at least two crofts is visible at the eastern end of the monument fronting onto what is now the access track to Callow Hall. The ground rises up to 2m on both sides of the track and although there have been some relatively recent alterations to its layout it is suggested that the origin of the track lies in the medieval period. The tofts lie at a forty five degree angle to Callow Lane suggesting their alignment was dictated by the sunken track rather than Callow Lane. These crofts are slightly terraced into the slope and at their western end banks, surviving up to 0.5m in height, define the position of tofts. This group of crofts and tofts is more clearly visible on the ground surface than those at the western end of the monument. Raised terraces indicating the position of building platforms are also evident on the eastern side of the access track to Callow Hall. In this area a covered car port has been sunk into the side of the sunken trackway and although this will have degraded the remains in the immediate area it does not detract from the overall importance of the monument. The tofts and crofts at the east and west ends of the monument are linked by remains of part of the medieval open field system. These are visible as parts of at least two furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow which survive to a height of approximately 0.25m. A bank approximately 5m wide and surviving to a height of about 0.35m runs along the southern edge of the central section of the monument. This is interpreted as a balk, a grassy bank generally used to mark out particularly significant groups of lands, such as blocks of demesne lands (belonging to the manorial home farm) or major-sub divisions in the fields. In the context of Callow the balk separates the open fields to the south, possibly belonging to Callow Hall, from the settlement to the north. Aerial photographs indicate that ridge and furrow did exist to the south of the balk but this has been seriously degraded and is not therefore included in the scheduling. Approximately 100m west of the access track to Callow Hall, adjacent to Callow Lane and within the area of the scheduling, are the remains of a small quarry. This has been worked in relatively recent times and the hollow created is now used to store stone. Slightly further south are the earthwork remains of what is interpreted as an earlier post-medieval quarry. This is evident as an oval shaped hollow which is marked on its southern side by a raised stone bank. All modern surfaces, field boundaries and the covered car port are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included. SELECTED SOURCES Other Reference - Title: SK 2651/1 NMR 12952/01 - Date: 1996 - Type: AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH - Description: SK 266518 Other Reference - Title: SK 2651/1 NMR 12952/01 - Date: 1996 - Type: AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH - Description: SK 266518 Book Reference - Author: Page, W (ed) - Title: Victoria History of the Counties of England Derbyshire - Date: 1905 - Page References: 133 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Page, W. [ed] - Title: Victoris History of the Counties of England Derbyshire - Date: 1905 - Page References: 133 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Wightman, W. E. - Title: Open field agriculture in the Peak District - Date: 1961 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: LXXXI - Page References: 111-125 - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Notification: Medieval settlement and part of an open field system, 250m north west of Callow Hall. List entry no. 1019491. SM Cat. No. 489.



Grid reference Centred SK 2672 5197 (384m by 195m)
Map sheet SK25SE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Sep 12 2013 12:26PM

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