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Medieval settlement, including site of chapel and part of the open field system, immediately north east of Alkmonton Old Hall Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Alkmonton, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.9355 / 52°56'7"N

Longitude: -1.7129 / 1°42'46"W

OS Eastings: 419395.36792

OS Northings: 337602.838788

OS Grid: SK193376

Mapcode National: GBR 49P.ZQZ

Mapcode Global: WHCFK.NGKY

Entry Name: Medieval settlement, including site of chapel and part of the open field system, immediately north east of Alkmonton Old Hall Farm

Scheduled Date: 25 February 1971

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018617

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29934

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Alkmonton

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Alkmonton St John

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas
of Alkmonton medieval settlement, including the site of the chapel and a
section of the associated open field system. The site is situated on naturally
undulating ground on a south west facing slope, overlooking Alkmonton Old Hall
Alkmonton is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it is
recorded that `Alchementune' was held under Henry de Ferieres, had land for
two ploughs, 12 acres of meadow and woodland for pannage. At the time of
Domesday it was worth a total of 40 shillings. In 1334 the tax quota for the
village was substantial, indicating that the village was as large as any of
its neighbours.
In the reign of Edward I the manor was held by the family of Bakepuz and later
by the Blount family. In 1474 Walter Blount (Lord Mountjoy) bequeathed lands
to the ancient hospital of St Leonard, situated between Alkmonton and Bentley,
for the maintenance of seven poor men over the age of 55. The pensioners were
to have pasture for seven cows in Barton Park, fuel from some of Lord
Mountjoys' manors and a gown and hood every third year. Lord Mountjoy also
directed that a chapel should be built at Alkmonton, dedicated to St Nicholas
and that the master of the hospital should say mass in it yearly, on the
festival of St Nicholas. The hospital was abolished during the Reformation in
The monument survives as a series of well preserved earthworks and buried
remains. The settlement is arranged around a green from which four sunken
trackways radiate. The green lies in the southern corner of the area of
protection and extends to the north west and the north east. The exact shape
of the green is difficult to determine because the present farm buildings and
a trackway overlie its southern side.
A sunken trackway joins the green at its north west corner and then runs west
for approximately 80m before turning to the north west. Here it appears to
follow the modern road (Leapley Lane) which is itself sunken. After
approximately 110m the medieval sunken track turns to the north east and runs
along the northern boundary of the area of protection where it terminates in
an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. This trackway is interpreted as a
`back lane' which would have provided access to the fields. The trackway
encloses a terraced platform which measures approximately 25m by 50m and
survives to a height of approximately 0.5m. This is believed to be the site of
the medieval chapel. Cropmarks visible from aerial photographs indicate the
position of a long, narrow building on this platform. In 1844 a font was found
close to this area and is now in St Johns Church, Alkmonton. A second, larger
terraced platform lies to the north of the chapel and is bounded on its
northern edge by the lane. This is sub-rectangular in shape and measures
approximately 50m by 60m. Further cropmarks indicate the position of
structures on this platform.
Two more sunken trackways meet the green on its northern edge. Both of these
run roughly north to south and are clearly defined by old hedgerows on each
side. The northern ends of both of these trackways terminate at the edge of
ridge and furrow. Abutting the trackways on each side are a number of sub-
rectangular enclosures of varying dimensions which are defined by low banks
and ditches. At the north end of the westernmost trackway is a smaller
rectangular feature which measures approximately 10m by 10m and is defined by
low banks. This is interpreted as the site of a medieval building or croft.
The low banks, defining the building, are the remains of walls.
The fourth sunken trackway meets the green at its eastern end. This trackway
runs roughly north west to south east and is bounded on both sides and at its
northern end by a number of sub-rectangular enclosures. Within these
enclosures the sites of further building platforms are indicated but these
are more difficult to define on the ground. This series of enclosures is
bounded on its eastern side by a narrow and steep gully which runs from the
northern boundary of the monument to a small depression in the field to the
south of the area of protection. The gully is the remains of a former stream
and the depression, that of a former pond. The pond is now dry and full of
building rubble and other farm debris.
A number of terraced enclosures containing evidence of building platforms are
situated to the east of the stream gully but evidence of post-medieval
quarrying has distorted the layout of these. Two deep channels which survive
up to a depth of approximately 1.5m join the stream gully on each side. These
run east to west and would have provided drainage channels for the enclosures
on each side of the stream.
The village remains are surrounded on the north and east by the well preserved
remains of part of the open field system. The surviving remains are visible as
parts of four medieval furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked
by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow which
is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S'. This shape developed over
the years from the need to swing the plough team out at the end of a strip to
enable it to turn and to continue ploughing in the opposite direction. The
field remains survive to a height of 0.5m.
All modern fences, water and feeding troughs and farm machinery are excluded
from the scheduling, although 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

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 last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the West Midland Plateau sub-Province of the Northern
and Western Province, which is marked by a series of low plateaux and
escarpments, often with rather sandy soils, and great clay vales containing
alluvial and gravel terraces. Still well wooded in 1086, the area embraced
forests such as Kinver, Feckenham, Cannock and Arden. Compared with the land
to the east, the area had significantly lower numbers of nucleations and, with
the exception of the Severn valley, carried a mixture of medium to very high
densities of dispersed settlement. This included diverse hamlets, common-edge
scatters of small farms and cottages, and isolated larger farmsteads,
generally moated, many being of medieval foundation.
The Upper Trent and Dove local region is marked by varied terrain. The
alluvial tracts and terraces of the Trent and Dove mask a core clay lowland,
with Needwood Forest forming the watershed, while to the north and south are
the rising lands of Cannock Chase and the southern Pennines. It has low
densities of nucleated settlement, and medium and high densities of dispersed
settlement. Placenames indicate much woodland in the early Middle Ages.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as
earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed
crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently include the parish church
within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages
include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains
as well as below ground deposits. In the Central Province of England, villages
were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological
remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural
life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into
strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced
long, wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is
the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual
strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning-points and lateral grass baulks. Furlongs were
in turn grouped into large open fields. Well preserved ridge and furrow,
especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an
important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive
contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now
covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure.
A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of
furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship in the
pre-Reformation period. Parish churches were designed for congregational
worship and were generally divided into two main parts, the nave and the
chancel. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th
centuries. Chapels have always been major features of the landscape. A
significant number of surviving examples are identified as being nationally
important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively identified, are
particularly worthy of statutory protection as they are often left largely
undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of
their use up to their abandonment.
The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned medieval settlement of
Alkmonton are particularly well preserved and retain significant
archaeological deposits. The earthworks, aerial photographs and documentary
evidence provide a clear picture of the village layout and how it fitted
within the wider agricultural landscape. Taken as a whole the medieval
settlement of Alkmonton will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of
the development of medieval settlement in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Lost Villages of England, (1954), 346
Lysons, Reverend D, Lysons, S, Magna Britannia. A concise topographical account of several coun, (1817), 200-201
Lysons, Reverend D, Lysons, S, Magna Britannia. A concise topographical account of several coun, (1817), 200-201
Auden, Rev A M, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Barton Blount and the Civil War, , Vol. Vol 43, (1921), 1-18
Leics. SMR 94.04.04 SK 195 375, Hartley, F, Alkmonton DMV, (1994)
Leics. SMR 94.04.04 SK 195 375, Hartley, F, Alkmonton DMV, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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