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Medieval settlement immediately south east of Smerrill Grange

A Scheduled Monument in Middleton and Smerrill, Derbyshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1534 / 53°9'12"N

Longitude: -1.7015 / 1°42'5"W

OS Eastings: 420055.462262

OS Northings: 361853.083569

OS Grid: SK200618

Mapcode National: GBR 476.8M8

Mapcode Global: WHCDD.TZXW

Entry Name: Medieval settlement immediately south east of Smerrill Grange

Scheduled Date: 26 January 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019044

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29973

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Middleton and Smerrill

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Youlgreave All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas
of Smerrill medieval settlement. The monument is situated on a narrow terrace
to the south of Rowlow Brook which runs north west to south east through a
steep, V-shaped valley.
The monument survives as a series of well preserved earthworks which follow
the upper edge of the valley scarp. The settlement is laid out on a linear
arrangement along a central track which runs south east to north west. At its
eastern end the track turns to the south and follows the field boundary until
it meets with the existing road linking the villages of Elton and Middleton.
Tradition suggests that the northern end of the track originally continued
beyond the area of protection, along the edge of the valley scarp and round to
the north east where it eventually met with the access road to Lowfields Farm.
The track is no longer visible beyond the area of protection.
Earthworks either side of the central track define a series of rectangular
crofts or enclosures laid out at right angles to the track. The crofts are
defined by linear, grass covered banks which represent the buried remains of
walls. The banks survive up to a height of approximately 1m and short sections
of walling are visible in a few exposed places.
Most of the crofts contain at least one raised, rectangular platform which is
defined by grass covered banks. These represent the sites of medieval
buildings which, in most cases, lie adjacent, and parallel, to the track. The
buildings vary in size but in many cases doorways and internal partition walls
can be identified from the earthworks. The two largest and most clearly
defined building platforms lie at the eastern end of the settlement. The
easternmost building platform is positioned at right angles to the central
track and shows evidence of at least two internal walls. The largest of the
platforms suggests the building was L-shaped in plan with one section fronting
onto the track and the other laid out at right angles to it. These remains
survive to a height of up to 1.5m. The name of the adjacent farm, Smerrill
Grange, suggests there may have been a monastic farm or grange here. There
is, however, little historical information to support this. The history of
the medieval settlement also appears unrecorded.
All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.
This monument lies in the Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
woodland.
The Cheshire Plain local region is marked by an enormous range of settlement
forms, such as market towns, villages and scattered farmsteads. There are
numerous small hamlets bearing the name `green', associated with areas of
common grazing land, as well as moated sites. All these types of settlement
are known to have medieval roots, though it is not yet clear which represent
the oldest forms.

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.
The earthwork, buried and standing remains of the abandoned areas of Smerrill
medieval settlement are particularly well preserved and retain important
archaeological and ecological deposits. The earthworks indicate the layout of
the early village and how it fitted into the wider medieval landscape. As a
whole the remains of Smerrill medieval settlement will add greatly to our
knowledge and understanding of the development and subsequent shrinkage of
medieval settlement in the area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Held Peak Park Office, Smerrill medieval settlement, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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