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Shrunken medieval village and moated site at Thurvaston

A Scheduled Monument in Osleston and Thurvaston, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.9365 / 52°56'11"N

Longitude: -1.64 / 1°38'23"W

OS Eastings: 424294.020298

OS Northings: 337739.538376

OS Grid: SK242377

Mapcode National: GBR 5C4.S8F

Mapcode Global: WHCFL.SG74

Entry Name: Shrunken medieval village and moated site at Thurvaston

Scheduled Date: 25 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011622

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23299

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Osleston and Thurvaston

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Long Lane Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a moated site and other remains of the shrunken medieval
village at Thurvaston. The moated site comprises a rectangular platform 1.5m
high surrounded by a moat 1m deep which varies between 6m and 9m wide. The
platform measures 22m from north to south by 18m from east to west and would
have been the site of a medieval timber framed hall. A 5m wide causeway onto
the platform crosses the moat from the north at the north west corner while,
joining the moat from the west at the south west corner, is a 3m wide leat or
drain. To the west, this feature is truncated by the modern road.
The village remains extend to the south and north of the moated site and also
existed to the west, where they have been disturbed by the road and other
modern development. East of the area of the scheduling, there originally lay
the crofts or home-fields of the houses on the eastern side of the medieval
village. These survive as part of the modern field system of Thurvaston Farm
but are not included in the scheduling. The area south of the moat contains
numerous building platforms divided by narrow sunken trackways, with a wider
sunken track winding south through the centre of the area to a level green.
West of the moat is a banked enclosure interpreted as the stackyard of the
moated hall while, extending northwards and parallel with the modern road, is
the main street through the centre of the medieval village. This is flanked by
further platforms and enclosures. However, on the west side these only
partially survive due to the modern road. On the east side they are well-
preserved and represent the sites of tofts; that is, the yards of individual
homesteads containing the buried remains of a house and outbuildings.
Roughly 100m north of the moat, the main street forks around another group of
building platforms which lie to the south of a level area interpreted as
another green. The east fork of the road can be seen to level out near this
green, but it is not clear where the west fork led as it now ends behind
modern housing. Further building platforms are arranged around the north green
and may previously have extended into the area now occupied by Thurvaston
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern boundary fencing and walls, all
farm gates, the animal shelter at the north end of the monument and five
telegraph poles, together with their stays, but the ground beneath these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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
primarily devoted to farming, 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 as well as acting as the focus
of ecclesiastical, and often manorial, authority within each medieval parish.
Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously
down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size and are now
occupied by farmsteads or hamlets. This decline may have taken place gradually
throughout the lifetime of the village or more rapidly, particularly during
the 14th and 15th centuries when many other villages were wholly deserted. The
reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining
economic viability or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their decline, large
parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and
contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Over 3000 shrunken medieval
villages are recorded nationally. 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.

The shrunken village remains at Thurvaston are extremely well-preserved and
provide evidence of a pattern of decline and desertion seen throughout this
part of Derbyshire in the countryside flanking the line of the Roman road now
known as Long Lane.
The moated house site, which also survives well, is a good example of this
class of monument and would have been the manorial centre of the village.
Around 6000 moats are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or
seasonally waterfilled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of
dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the
islands were used for horticulture. 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. The
peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and
1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts
of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period,
are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity
in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument
and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and
status in the countryside. Many examples provide favourable conditions for the
survival of organic remains.

Source: Historic England


SMR, Craven, M. and Drage, C., Moated Site List, (1982)

Source: Historic England

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