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Medieval settlement including part of open field system, 200m south of Bank Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Mapleton, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.0281 / 53°1'41"N

Longitude: -1.7536 / 1°45'12"W

OS Eastings: 416622.769106

OS Northings: 347896.776162

OS Grid: SK166478

Mapcode National: GBR 48P.1H4

Mapcode Global: WHCF5.147X

Entry Name: Medieval settlement including part of open field system, 200m south of Bank Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018871

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29940

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Mapleton

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Ashbourne St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas
of Mapleton medieval settlement and part of the open field system. The
monument lies within two areas of protection. The area to the west is situated
on relatively flat ground between the River Dove and Mapleton Road. The
eastern area is situated on the steep west facing slope of the Dove Valley.
Mapleton is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded
that it was one of six berewicks belonging to the manor of Ashbourne. A
berewick was a settlement which was physically separate from the village where
the lord lived but was still governed as part of the manorial estate. Mapleton
at this time was owned by the king and contained enough land for two plough
teams of eight oxen each. The village is now, and has been for some time, part
of the Okeover estate. In 1727 Rowland Okeover gave lands to trustees for the
purpose of building three houses at Mapleton for clergymens' widows with an
annual payment of money and coals for each widow. These buildings survive
today and are situated to the north of the western half of the monument.
In the field to the south east of Okeover Bridge are the remains of a large
sub-rectangular platform. The platform lies on the east side of the field
adjacent to Mapleton Road and is defined by low banks and ditches which
survive to a height and depth of approximately 0.5m. The platform is most
clearly visible from aerial photographs but the southern end of the platform
has now been degraded by a modern housing development and is therefore not
included in the scheduling. On an enclosure map of 1848 the field is described
as `Hall Croft and outbuildings'. From this evidence, and the nature of the
earthworks, the platform is interpreted as the site of the medieval hall with
the low banks created by the buried remains of walls.
To the north of the platform and running in a westerly direction towards the
river is a sunken track. At its western end the track turns to the north for a
short distance and slopes gently down to the river just south of Okeover
Bridge. It is possible that the track led to a crossing point in the river
which would have been the predecessor to Okeover Bridge. A modern footpath
partly follows the alignment of the sunken track.
On the western side of the field and adjacent to the river are the well
preserved remains of part of the medieval open field system. These are evident
as ridge and furrow cultivation strips which are aligned east to west and form
a single furlong (group of cultivation strips) marked by a headland. The
furlong is bounded on its southern side by an ancient hedgerow. To the south
of the hedgerow are the remains of a further two furlongs. The ridge and
furrow is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S', a shape which
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 remains survive to a height of 0.5m.
To the east of this headland, and adjacent to Mapleton Road, are the remains
of three crofts or enclosures. These are defined by low banks which are
created by the buried remains of walls. The size of the crofts varies in each
case but are between 30m and 40m wide. Crofts are small closes adjoining to a
house, used either as pasture or for arable. The position of the houses is not
clearly discernible on the ground but they were probably situated adjacent to
Mapleton Road in a similar layout to the existing village.
The second area of protection lies on the east side of Mapleton Road. This
part of the monument includes a network of sunken tracks which link the main
village road to the open fields on the sides of the valley. A sunken track
joins with Mapleton Road approximately 150m north of Callowend Farm and runs
in an easterly direction. The western end of this track provides access to
modern properties and has therefore been levelled and surfaced and is not
included in the scheduling but the remainder of the track survives as an
earthwork approximately 1m in depth and is included. The track continues in an
easterly direction for about 250m before it meets with a track running north
to south. The east to west track continues for a further 90m before it is
truncated by a ploughed field. The track which runs north to south curves to
the east and separates an area of scrubland lying to its east and outside the
area of protection from the ridge and furrow to its west.
Another sunken track, again aligned north to south, runs along the western
edge of the ridge and furrow and is most clearly visible running parallel to
the eastern boundary of the churchyard towards Bank Farm.
The area of ridge and furrow is bounded on its northern and southern edges by
wide, grass covered banks. These may have functioned as property boundaries or
as dividers separating areas of pasture from arable fields so as to prevent
damage to crops by animals.
It is possible that the trackways not only provided people with access to the
open arable fields but also acted as droveways to drive animals up hill into
areas of pasture. Field names such as Skinners Flat and Milking Bank which
appear on the 1848 enclosure map indicate that these fields have been used
for pasture but the field names may not date to the medieval period when the
ridge and furrow and open field system was in operation.
All walls, fences, gates and feeding troughs are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these 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.
The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Mapleton medieval
settlement are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits.
The earthworks and documentary sources provide a clear picture of the village
layout and how it fitted within the wider medieval landscape. Taken as a whole
the abandoned areas of Mapleton medieval settlement will add greatly to our
knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lysons, Reverend D, Lysons, S, Magna Britannia. A concise topographical account of several coun, (1817), 204
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Derbyshire, (1905), 339

Source: Historic England

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