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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 368
Date assigned Monday, May 13, 1996
Date last amended


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 devoted primarily to agriculture, 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 and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. 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. Conksbury is a well preserved and well documented example of a small medieval settlement surviving in a limestone upland area. It has suffered only marginal disturbance round its western edge and so will retain well preserved buried remains of a wide variety of features relating to the life and economy of its inhabitants from approximately the 10th to the 16th centuries. DETAILS Conksbury deserted medieval settlement is situated above Lathkill Dale in the central uplands of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. The monument includes the core area of the settlement. Further remains, including those of a medieval mill, are believed to survive nearby but have not been included in the scheduling as their precise location is unknown. The settlement site is visible as a complex of earthworks and modified natural features flanking a 10m wide road. The road forms an S-shape through the settlement from south to north. It enters the settlement from the south, forming a crossroads with the current road known as Back Lane. It ends at the north end of the settlement below a large rectangular platform. This platform, which is largely natural, is the site of a number of faint earthworks indicative of a large building. It is not clear what this building was but its size and location at the head of the settlement suggest either a prestigious farmhouse or, alternatively, a barn or granary. In addition to the road and the building, the visible remains of the settlement include several small enclosures and building platforms marking the sites of houses and ancillary buildings such as outhouses and workshops. Some of the enclosures are the crofts relating to house sites, whereas others will have been used as stock pens. In some parts of the settlement, particularly towards the north end, the enclosures utilise lines of outcropping rock to create natural boundaries which will have been followed by walls and fences. The remains of all buildings on the site, together with those of other structures such as walls and fences, will survive as buried and rock-cut features throughout the whole of the monument. The settlement was already in existence in the Anglo-Saxon period and is recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 as Cranchesberie, one of seven outlying hamlets (berewicks) in the royal manor of Bakewell. In 1086 it consisted of three or four peasant households with extensive meadows in the area to the west known as Meadow Place. Following the Domesday survey, the manor of Bakewell was granted by King William I to his kinsman William Peverel. Peverel's former lands at Conksbury were held in the 12th century by one Avenal of Haddon who gave all of Meadow Place to the priory which Peverel had founded in the early 12th century. Conksbury itself (recorded as Conkersberie or Conkysbyry) was later granted to the Abbey of St Mary de Pre or de Pratis at Leicester by Avenal's son, William Avenal. The gift also included Conksbury mill, the cliff on the other side of the water and twenty acres of ploughland at Haddon. Lands gifted to religious foundations were not infrequently leased back to the grantor and the Avenals of Haddon may have remained at both Conksbury and Meadow Place as tenants, perhaps following the confiscation of their main estates in the late 12th century. If this is the case, the likelihood of there having been a prestigious house at Conksbury is increased. Documents referring to tenants and rights of free warren indicate that Leicester Abbey purchased or leased Meadow Place from Lenton Priory in the 13th century. The abbey retained both Conksbury and Meadow Place until 1539- 1540 when the lands passed to the Crown with the dissolution of Leicester Abbey. In 1552 both were sold to Sir William Cavendish and in 1610 were sold by Henry Cavendish to his brother William Lord Cavendish. Conksbury thus became the property first of the Earls then of the Dukes of Devonshire until sold again into private hands. All modern walls, gates and fences are excluded from the scheduling, together with the steps leading down to the settlement site from the garden of Conksbury Hall, although the ground beneath these exclusions is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Title: Wolley MSS/ British Library Mss 6688 and 6671 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Microfilm Derbys. County Library HQ Book Reference - Author: Caley, J. et al (eds) - Title: Dugdale's Monasticum Anglicanum - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Volumes V and VI Book Reference - Author: Dodd, A.E. and Dodd, E.M. - Title: Peakland Roads and Trackways - Date: 1980 - Page References: 160-161 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Hart, C.R. - Title: Conkesbury - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Notes in SMR now on EH file Article Reference - Date: 1889 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: XI - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Date: 1893 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: XV - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1996. Scheduling notification: Conksbury Deserted Medieval Settlement. List entry no. 1014589. SM Cat. No. 368.



Grid reference Centred SK 2106 6557 (237m by 269m)
Map sheet SK26NW

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Aug 9 2013 3:53PM

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