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Medieval enclosed field system and earlier remains at Sheffield Plantation

A Scheduled Monument in Grindleford, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.3091 / 53°18'32"N

Longitude: -1.6164 / 1°36'58"W

OS Eastings: 425657.324609

OS Northings: 379201.875859

OS Grid: SK256792

Mapcode National: GBR KZ45.VG

Mapcode Global: WHCCW.42KZ

Entry Name: Medieval enclosed field system and earlier remains at Sheffield Plantation

Scheduled Date: 24 April 1935

Last Amended: 29 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017666

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29817

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Grindleford

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire


The monument includes a large, irregular enclosure which has a perimeter wall
constructed from upright orthosats (selected boulders) with parts filled with
drystone masonry. Immediately to the south there are also the remains of an
incomplete enclosure wall and cairn. Within the enclosures are traces of
linear clearance banks and cairns, indicating that the area was used as a
field system. The enclosures are medieval in date but some of the clearance
features may be prehistoric. The monument stands on level ground close to a
scarp edge to the west which overlooks the Burbage Brook.
The northern enclosed field system is roughly oval in shape with its longer
axis oriented SSW-NNE. It is approximately 170m by 120m. Its walls are in
various stages of survival but the outline of almost the entire enclosed field
system can be identified. The western side of the enclosure is the most
complete where orthostats stand to a height of approximately 0.6m. This side
of the enclosure is broken only by an old drainage ditch. The southern end of
the northern enclosure is truncated by a disused agricultural track which gave
access to farmland to the south. The line of the wall can still be traced as a
low linear bank with protruding stones and a hump in the track. The eastern
side of the enclosure is again identified by a low linear embankment but with
several more complete sections where orthostats and clearance debris still
define the wall. There is a shallow ditch on the eastern side. The line of
the enclosure wall can be traced northwards almost as far as a small stream to
the north of the enclosure where the wall turns to the west. From this point,
westwards, the northern enclosure wall is absent for much of its length
although its general line can be traced by occasional, fragmentary remains
running parallel to the stream. Again, where the disused track crosses the
northern end of the enclosure, the line of the wall can be seen as a stony
hump in the track. The western end of the northern section of the wall is
missing but the line of the western section can be easily traced to within
15m of the stream.
Land to the west and north of the northern enclosure contains much stone
debris in contrast to that within the enclosure. The interior contains
approximately 17 cairns of between 2m and 5m diameter, four wide linear
clearance heaps and vestiges of stony banks. The distribution of the cairns
and other clearance features is not confined to the enclosure. These features
also extend to the south east beyond the walls of the enclosure, indicating
that at least some of the clearance features relate to earlier agriculture
which was possibly prehistoric. At the SSW end of the enclosure is a small
platform which may be the site of a timber building. Four long house
structures, which are likely to be contemporary with the medieval enclosure,
are located within 400m to the south of the monument. These are the subject of
a separate scheduling and are likely to be the settlement from which these
fields were exploited.
The walls of the southern enclosure are now little more than low fragmentary
linear earthen banks with occasional stones which stand only a few centimetres
above ground. The remains now partially enclose an area approximately 90m by
25m. It appears to be the northern end of a similar enclosure to that to
the north. A post-medieval barn and field system appear to have destroyed the
southern part of the enclosure and the embankment has been destroyed near
a large drystone wall marking the northern end of the post-medieval enclosure.
Incorporated into the enclosure wall is a large stony feature resembling a
large cairn. It measures approximately 22m by 8m and stands 0.6m high. This is
either a clearance heap, contemporary with the medieval enclosure, or the
remains of a mutilated prehistoric barrow which became incorporated into the
wall of the later enclosure. A kerb, visible on the northern side of the
feature, adds support to this interpretation.
The enclosed field systems are evidence of medieval assarting, the process
whereby patches of common land were cleared and farmed after the Norman
Conquest. There is a similar block of assarted land some 500m to the north
west at Lawrence Field where it is associated with two long house structures,
one of which is dated to the 11th or 12th century. The remains at both
Lawrence Field and Sheffield Plantation represent the intaking of the plateau
above Padley Manor. However, it is evident that some of the features at
Sheffield Plantation relate to an earlier field system which may have its
origin in the Bronze Age. Similar Bronze Age field systems are recorded on the
backslopes of many of the gritstone edges in this region.
Excluded from the scheduling are all post-medieval walls, gates, fences and
posts, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 past 1500 years or more.
The High Peak local region uplands bear traces of pre-medieval occupation, but
the barren plateaux surfaces are now virtually uninhabited. Dark gritstone
farmhouses were built in sheltered hollows, while deserted and derelict
habitation sites witness the harsh conditions in these sheep grazing lands, or
mark moribund industrial ventures. Of medieval settlements only a few
dispersed homestead sites have so far been recognised.

The enclosed field system at Sheffield Plantation is well preserved and is
associated with a settlement site 400m to the south which is the subject of a
separate scheduling. Together both monuments are important in demonstrating
pioneer medieval settlement in the Peak District.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey, (1984), 132
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986)
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986)
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983)
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., (1983)
Barnatt, JW, Yarncliffe, Longshaw Estate .... Derbyshire, 1994, unpublished survey report
Barnatt, JW, Yarncliffe, Longshaw Estate .... Derbyshire, 1994, unpublished survey report

Source: Historic England

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