Summary of Monument
Medieval moated platform, surrounding ditch and outer bank approximately 70m north of Sturston Hall; ridge and furrow west of the moated site, and buried remains of a C13 mill north of the moated site. .
Reasons for Designation
The medieval moated site, ridge and furrow, and mill site at Sturston are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
Survival: * the moated site is a very good example of its type with the principal features surviving as clearly defined earthworks;
Potential: * there is good evidence for the survival of nationally important buried archaeological deposits including structural remains, artefacts, waterlogged organic material and a buried medieval land surface which, together, has the potential to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the wider settlement and the social and economic context in which it functioned;
Diversity of features: * for the range and diversity of features represented on the site which adds to the archaeological potential and consequently the quality and depth of interpretation and understanding of the abandoned medieval settlement;
Group value: * it has strong spatial relationship with nearby Sturston Hall (listed Grade II).
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. Although moated sites were built throughout the medieval period and are widely scattered throughout England, the peak period of construction was between about 1250 and 1350, and by far the greatest concentration lies in the central and eastern parts of England.
In a study of the history and topography of Derbyshire in 1895, T Bulmer & Co wrote: ‘Sturston, at the time of the Domesday Survey, belonged to Henry de Ferrers, under whom it was held by one Roger. It was afterwards in the possession of the Grendons, and passed thence by inheritance to the Knivetons. In 1655 Sir Andrew Kniveton sold the manor to Francis Maynell of London, from whom it descended to Mrs Stoddart, and it now belongs to Mrs WR Smith. Sturston Hall, an ancient building, was for nearly three centuries occupied by the family of Tomlinson.’ This reference to ‘an ancient building’ at Sturston, Offcote and Underwood, led to the discovery of a roughly square-shaped moated site in a field approximately 70m north of Sturston Hall. The moated site comprises a roughly square platform enclosed by a wide ditch, and aerial photographs show faint traces of two rectangular structures on the central platform, most likely representing building platforms.
Approximately 100m north-northwest of the moated site there is an embanked area representing the buried remains of a medieval mill, which is referred to in a document of 1292 as ‘molendinum meum de Sturston quod vocatur le Mulneorchard’. A rectangular-plan water-powered corn mill is depicted at the south-west corner of the mill pond on the one-inch Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1838-1842, the mill pond fed from its north-east corner by a sluice, leat and weir from Henmore Brook. It is likely that the house to the west of the corn mill was constructed in the early C19 for the mill owner. The mill was in use up until the Second World War (1939-1945), but was demolished in 1981. Traditionally, the mill was the site of one of the two goals (the Up’ards goal) of the Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide football game, thought to have been established in the mid-C17, and following the demolition of the mill in 1981, the goal was moved to the north bank of the mill pond (south bank of Henmore Brook) in 1996.
The current Sturston Hall (listed at Grade II) was built to the south of the moated site in the C17, and implies the site of the former manorial centre was abandoned at or before this time. The field in which the moated site and mill are located, was sub-divided in the late C20 with a fence added along the north of the moated site. The gardens to the south of the moated site were established in the late C20: they do not appear on the 1977 OS map, and were likely established when the agricultural buildings south of the moated site were adapted for residential use. .
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: Medieval moated platform, surrounding ditch and outer bank approximately 70m north of Sturston Hall; ridge and furrow west of the moated site, and buried remains of a C13 mill north of the moated site.
DESCRIPTION: The moated site is situated at the southern end of a field, approximately 70m north of Sturston Hall, a Grade II-listed C17 house. The site is roughly square in plan measuring approximately 70m x 70m in total, comprising a central platform surrounded by a ditch and an outer bank. The platform measures approximately 55m x 55m with slight earthworks on the surface indicating the presence of buried archaeology. The earthworks appear to correspond with the faint trace of two rectangular structures shown in aerial photographs taken in 2001, and most likely represent building platforms. The ditch or moat survives around all four sides of the platform to between about 1m-1.2m deep and about 3m wide and although dry at the time of the site visit appears waterlogged beneath the surface in places. The only exceptions being in the north-east corner where a small area of disturbance is evident: material has been removed and embanked to provide a causeway to the central platform. Also, along the southern side, the ditch appears to have been partially infilled and is only about 40cm deep. The outer bank survives about 5m wide and about 1m-1.2m high around all four sides, with the exception of the southern side where it has been reduced to about 40cm. The partial levelling and infilling along the southern side may relate to the establishment of small gardens to the south of the moat in the late C20. This is certainly the case in the south-east corner of the outer bank which was terraced slightly in the early C21 to create a small garden measuring approximately 20m x 10m, bounded by a timber fence. The profile of the bank is little altered here and is evident in the rise and fall of the fence along the northern side of the garden. A plastic drainage pipe is evident beneath the surface of the garden feeding into the south-east corner of the ditch.
From the south-eastern corner of the scheduled area, a deep gully runs to the north towards the existing mill pond, most likely representing part of the historic water management system of both the medieval mill and moat. Two small ponds which have been cut into this gully, do not appear on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, and are known to have been cut around 1985.
Approximately 100m north of the moated site, there is an embanked area representing the remains of a medieval mill. The embankment is roughly semi-circular in plan, measuring approximately 50m x 15m, with a bank and outer ditch (infilled) curving around the south-east, south and south-west sides. To the north of this area the ground drops steeply by approximately 10m to a large mill pond, which is fed at its north-east corner via a weir, leat and sluice from Henmore Brook. Although the mill pond is on the site of an earlier pond it was recut and landscaped approximately 30 years ago requiring much of the basal silts to be removed to enable it to retain water and is therefore not included in the area of protection.
Well defined medieval ridge and furrow survives in the field west of the moated site, separated by the historic track leading to what is now the Ashbourne to Kniveton road. Standing to approximately 0.30m high, the ridges are approximately 4m wide, and the furrows approximately 1.5-2m wide.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: The moated site and buried remains of the mill are bounded to the north and west by post and wire fencing, and to the south by timber fencing. The ridge and furrow in the field further to the west of the moated site is bounded along its northern edge by a water channel running from the mill and hedgrow and fencing around other sides. The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
EXCLUSIONS: All modern fences, paving, and road surfaces, and the two small ponds north-east of the moat are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.