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Medieval settlement, including fishpond and open field system, immediately north and 240m south of Lea Cottage Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bradbourne, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.0653 / 53°3'54"N

Longitude: -1.7117 / 1°42'42"W

OS Eastings: 419413.029185

OS Northings: 352041.478577

OS Grid: SK194520

Mapcode National: GBR 485.S2W

Mapcode Global: WHCDZ.P62Y

Entry Name: Medieval settlement, including fishpond and open field system, immediately north and 240m south of Lea Cottage Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019405

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29942

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Bradbourne

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Bradbourne All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas
of the medieval settlement of Lee by Bradbourne. The site is situated on a
steep, east facing slope overlooking Bradbourne Brook and is in two separate
areas of protection.
The earliest documented occupation of the settlement dates to 1215 but with no
tax returns registered after 1517 it would appear that it was abandoned by
this time. The enclosure of land in the 15th and 16th centuries for sheep-
farming may well have contributed to the depopulation of the settlement. On
the whole there was very little abandonment of settlement in the Peak District
at this time but in 1649 parliamentary surveyors did record that some villages
or hamlets had gone. Although few settlements are named, it is possible that
Lee by Bradbourne was a victim of this transition from arable to pastoral
The monument survives as a series of earthworks and buried remains to the
south and west of Lea Hall, and to the north, north east and north west of Lea
Cottage Farm. The earthworks indicate that the settlement was laid out in a
linear design along a natural contour. Some terracing into the natural slope
may have been carried out in order to provide flat surfaces on which to
construct building platforms. A combination of earthwork surveys and aerial
photographs provide a clear picture of the settlement layout and form. The
settlement is situated on the eastern side of a sunken trackway which
approaches the village from the north east but turns south to enter the
village at its northern end. The trackway forms the main street through the
village. The alignment of the trackway is marked by field boundary hedges. The
trackway, which is approximately 10m wide and survives to a depth of up to 1m,
continues south for approximately 300m and is crossed by Bent Lane, the
present road leading from Tissington to Bradbourne.
At the northern end of the village are two rectangular crofts or enclosures.
Both lie to the east of the main village street but the sunken track
turns to the east just north of the enclosures and so forms the northern
boundary of the northernmost enclosure. The enclosures, aligned east to
west, are defined by low banks and shallow ditches, and measure approximately
75m east to west. The northernmost is 35m wide and that to the south is 70m
wide. Internal features indicate that the two enclosures were used for
different purposes. In the northern enclosure the remains of ridge and furrow
indicates its use for arable agriculture. In the southern enclosure is a
rectangular earthwork measuring approximately 20m by 40m. Abutted to this on
its northern side is a smaller feature which measures 10m by 10m. Both are
slightly terraced into the slope, defined by low banks and interpreted as the
sites of medieval buildings or tofts. The low banks represent the buried
remains of walls. The presence of tofts within the enclosure indicates its use
as a small holding. The buildings are partly separated from the western side
of the croft by a wide gully which runs north to south across approximately
two thirds of the enclosure. The gully, which is interpreted as another
trackway, extends beyond the southern enclosure and continues south of Bent
Lane for approximately 120m. At its southern end the trackway curves to the
west and links with the main village street.
To the south of Bent Lane the remains of a number of crofts and tofts are
evident to the east of both trackways. The best preserved examples are
situated to the east of the easternmost hollow way and are most clearly
visible from aerial photographs. Here, a series of six crofts, some of which
contain tofts, can be seen extending between Bent Lane and Lee Cottage Farm.
The overall form of the tofts and crofts to the east of the main village
street are less clearly defined but significant archaeological remains are
easily identified on the ground as earthworks.
To the south east of these settlement remains, and linked by a shallow ditch
and low bank, is a large rectangular enclosure. This measures approximately
100m by 150m, and is defined on its south western, south eastern and north
eastern sides by a bank which survives to a height of approximately 0.5m, and
on its north western side by a similar bank and shallow ditch. In the south
east corner of the enclosure is a sunken rectangular feature which measures
approximately 20m by 12m. This is linked to a number of narrow gullies
situated both to the north and south of the feature. One of the gullies leads
from the southern corner of the sunken area in the direction of Bradbourne
Brook but the overall layout of the gully network is difficult to define. The
sunken feature is interpreted as a fishpond, and the gullies part of the water
management system which supported it.
Further settlement remains lie to the south and south west of Lea Hall.
Originally the medieval settlement would have extended between the two areas
of protection but those remains in the area of the farm complex will have been
obscured by later developments. In the area to the south and south west of Lea
Hall two very distinct crofts are separated by a steep slope. In the south
east corner of the eastern croft are the remains of a building platform. There
is evidence to suggest that more platforms lie to the north of this platform,
although the earthworks are not as clearly defined.
A track, which is believed to be a packhorse track, runs roughly north to
south through the whole settlement. To the north of Lea Cottage Farm part of
the track continues to be used, and is marked on the Ordnance Survey map as
the main access route to both Lea Cottage and Lea Hall Farms. To the south of
Lea Hall the grass covered track is not marked on the map, but it runs in a
south easterly direction through the monument and continues for at least 500m
beyond the edge of the scheduling. The rubble remains of a bridge mark its
crossing point over the river. Although not marked on the map this section of
the track is defined on the ground as a public right of way.
To the north east, north west and south of Lee Cottage Farm, and surrounding
the medieval settlement remains on all but the steepest slopes, are the well
preserved remains of part of the medieval open field system. The surviving
remains are visible as parts of six 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, feeding troughs and road surfaces 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.
The earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of the medieval
settlement of Lee by Bradbourne, immediately north and 240m south of Lea
Cottage Farm, are well preserved and retain significant archaeological
deposits. The earthworks, earthwork surveys and aerial photographs provide a
clear picture of the village layout and how it fitted within the wider
agricultural landscape. Taken as a whole, the medieval settlement remains of
Lee by Bradbourne will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the
development and decline of medieval settlement in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Lost Villages of England, (1954), 346
Cameron, K, The Place Names of Derbyshire, (1959), 386
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Derby, (1907), 175
'Medieval Settlement Research Group' in Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report, (1986), 24
D. Riley 2395/38, 40, 46. 2/11/85, Lee by Bradbourne medieval settlement, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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