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Conksbury deserted medieval settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Youlgreave, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.1869 / 53°11'12"N

Longitude: -1.686 / 1°41'9"W

OS Eastings: 421077.209024

OS Northings: 365576.386422

OS Grid: SK210655

Mapcode National: GBR 585.6KM

Mapcode Global: WHCDF.25D6

Entry Name: Conksbury deserted medieval settlement

Scheduled Date: 13 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014589

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27225

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Youlgreave

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Bakewell All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby


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.

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
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.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Caley, J et al (eds), Dugdale's Monasticum Anglicanum
Dodd, A E, Dodd, E M, Peakland Roads and Trackways, (1980), 160-161
'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, , Vol. XI, (1889)
'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, , Vol. XV, (1893)
Microfilm Derbys. County Library HQ, Wolley MSS/ British Library Mss 6688 and 6671,
Notes in SMR now on EH file, Hart, C R, Conkesbury,

Source: Historic England

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